‘We Are Living Things’ Review: The Truth Is Out There
Do you want to believe? Solomon (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) does — he already believes that his own mother was abducted by space aliens — which is probably easier than accepting what may be her truer and grizzlier fate.
But such is the type of absurd proposition faced by many undocumented immigrants like Solomon, as Antonio Tibaldi’s cool and atmospheric “We Are Living Things” posits in original if not always fully formed ways: Refugee life is often a choice between competing probabilities, a state of permanent ambiguity.
Solomon, who is Mexican, does odd jobs and lives on a recycling lot in Brooklyn, where at night he pursues his passions for magnetic rocks and listening to the stars. When he meets a beautiful Chinese woman, Chuyao (Xingchen Lyu), he senses he has found a fellow believer. He isn’t wrong; indeed, she says she was abducted by aliens herself.
He also senses danger. Chuyao is undocumented, too — that’s to say, vulnerable — working days at a nail salon. By night, a charming hustler (Zao Wang) pimps her out in ways that may prompt some angsty Googling. (I’ll save you some awkwardness: It’s called a latex vacuum bed.) Solomon, often a more convincing stalker than hero, has a creepy van and an unexplained facility with chloroform and box cutters. His unsolicited rescue attempt sends the unlikely pair fleeing west.
Tibaldi and his co-writer, Àlex Lora, do much with little, and one is likely to finish with more questions than resolutions — fitting for a film about various forms of alien life. If you’re also left wondering whether the central characters and their relationship feel sufficiently grounded, perhaps the answer is out there somewhere.
We Are Living Things
Not rated. In English, Spanish and Mandarin, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. In theaters.