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Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties fuses alien love and British punk

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Apr 3, 2018, 7:00 PM EDT

What do you get when you add the gonzo spirit of Hedwig and the Angry Inch to a Neil Gaiman tale about punky, testosterone-soaked London lads wooing girls who turn out to be literally out of this world? A feature-length film about transcending boundaries of all kinds: between the sexes, between generations, and even between species.

Gaiman’s 2007 Hugo-nominated short story looks like great fuel for an expanded feature film from Hedwig star (and director) John Cameron Mitchell. Mitchell spins Parties into a glam coming-of-age take not only on libidinous boys getting more than they bargained for, but on the alien girls who reveal more vulnerabilities than they first show. Judging from this fresh trailer, everyone looks poised to do some growing against the chaotic backdrop of London’s burgeoning ‘70s punk scene.

A24 on YouTube

Produced by New York-based A24 films, Parties follows 15-year-old Enn (Alex Sharp) and his friends through London's nightlife in 1977, where they sneak around to find punk gigs they’re probably way too young for, all in the simple quest to meet girls. They meet girls, alright — but their first awkward steps toward stealing a first kiss prove to be the least of the lessons in store.

The action happens when the friends come across a group of teens who, the studio teases, “seem like they are from another planet” because, well, they are. The group, which includes Enn’s love interest Zan (Elle Fanning), are here on Earth only long enough “to complete a mysterious rite of passage,” but Enn and Zan are soon enthralled with each other.

That kind of interspecies spark is bound to create problems (Nicole Kidman looks fierce as the aliens’ Queen Boadicea), but — like Mitchell’s Hedwig — this movie appears to have a heart for closing distances and bringing people (and planets) together, no matter how difficult the stodgy adults try to make things. Mitchell and Kidman have worked together before, collaborating on Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole, a conventional drama that earned Kidman an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a bereft mother.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties is slated to release in U.S. theaters on May 18.