We begin with demure Jane (Lisa Haas) being quizzed by a sceptical psychoanalyst (Rae C Wright) about her claims to have met aliens.

As Jane’s story unfolds, we flashback to the events that have brought her here. To this end, the story starts proper with a spaceship-set TV news report by bald aliens in Ming-like costumes, to the people of their planet Zots. They warn of the serious threat being posed to their planet by continued damage to the ozone layer – and advise that the reason for this is due to an abundance of "big feelings" among their kind. We’re told that, while emotions such as hatred and envy remain within the individual and therefore merely destroy them, love is such an intense feeling that it transcends the body and rises into the air … where it damages the ozone.

We then focus on young Zoinx (Susan Ziegler), a bald female alien who’s told that her emotional tears are literally overheating her. Her lovelorn demeanour is bad for Zots’ eco-system, she’s informed, and she must travel through space to a planet where the inhabitants are so promiscuous, she is certain to have her heart broken … leaving her incapable of ever loving again. That planet is Earth.

Two other aliens from Zots are already on Earth with the same objective, scouring the lesbian bars of New York in search of dates: Zylar (Jackie Monahan), whose disposition is cited onscreen as being "sexually generous", and Barr (Cynthia Kaplan), described as "co-dependent" (Zoinx is apparently "uncertain").

Flying into Earth’s stratosphere in what appears to be an oversized popcorn wrapper, Zoinx also lands in New York – and before long happens upon the quiet greetings card store where Jane works.

The pair hit it off quickly, despite Zoinx’s weird costume, offbeat appearance and monotone voice. None of this seems to bother Jane greatly. In fact, in no time at all, Jane has taken her new friend to the cinema and then back to her apartment for a coffee.

Zoinx agrees to see Jane again, in a local disco bar. There, she briefly encounters Zylar and Barr – who are still unsuccessfully on the pull. But, as that pair continue to fail to understand the subtleties of dating humans and inevitably begin to fall for one another, Jane and Zoinx’s relationship goes from strength to strength.

In the meantime, these protagonists are being followed and monitored by two ‘men in black’ (Dennis Davis and Alex Karpovsky). They’ve been sent to report on the alien’s movements, but spend most of their time bickering over amusing arguments (such as whether the senior agent’s wife is female or not).

Part "fish out of water" comedy-drama, part homage to the sci-fi cheapies of the 50s which blatantly preyed upon America’s fears of Cold War spies (the ‘alien’ threat) and nuclear energy (the radiation victim-type baldness of the space travellers; the theme surrounding the damage being done to the ozone), CO-DEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME is shot in beautiful monochrome in what is a successful bid to mask what was evidently a miniscule budget.

Performances are reserved and deadpan from the human characters; the aliens are more theatrical, despite their emotionless vocal stylings. It makes for an odd mix, lending the film a sometimes uneasy tone. Observational comedy is strived for during scenes where the aliens learn the quirks of their Earthly surroundings, while Jane’s interaction with her psychoanalyst is quite sombre and soul-searching in comparison.

The film’s title is a perfect indicator of what to expect of the main feature: it’s wilfully daft at frequent intervals, quirky and at times a little too busy for its own good.

As a comedy, the film benefits from some decent dialogue from the aliens which feels improvised. There is physical humour too – Zoinx’s outlandish dance routine in a gay bar being an obvious highlight.

At the end of the day though, LESBIAN is most notable for its warmth. Yes it’s well-shot and performed with zeal. Certainly, there is an abundance of imagination being donated from everyone involved. But it’s director Madeleine Olnek’s sensitive, sincere treatment of her own screenplay that makes the lasting impression. Eschewing the verbal explicitness or crude shock tactics that most genre-based examples of queer cinema revel in, this is a sweet-natured and well-intended romance in comparison.

Peccadillo are releasing this enjoyable mix of affectionate B-movie spoof and gentle social comedy uncut onto UK DVD.

Shot on HD, the film looks very good in a crisp, detailed black-and-white presentation which preserves the original 16x9 aspect ratio. Blacks are deep and contrasts are stable on the screener disc provided, while a light layer of grain appears to have been intentionally added in an effort to emulate the look and feel of the movies this film nods back to.

2.0 audio is provided in English (and Zots) and is a nice, clean affair throughout. English subtitles are provided for the alien dialogue (which appears to be English spoken backwards?) and are easily readable, being yellow with a black outline.

This being a test disc, there were no menus or extra features on offer. I understand, however, that the retail disc is set to include an interview with Olnek conducted at the 2012 Iris Prize Festival, along with the film’s original trailer.

LESBIAN is a fun if somewhat trite film, paying skilful homage to Cold War sci-fi B-movies of a bygone era in a smart, playful manner. The low budget lends a further element of welcome camp and, while not all the jokes work, it marks its director out as someone to watch out for in the future.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Peccadillo Pictures
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 12
Extras :
see main review