In September 1970, a British war correspondent (Paterson) is distracted from his coverage of the bloody conflict between Palestinians and Jordanians when he rescues a young lady (Swinton) from a PLO patrol. Simply named Friendship, she claims to be an extraterrestrial robot sent to Earth on a peace mission and accidentally diverted from her original destination, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Is she insane, a spy, or telling the truth? Wollen's film comes across as a two-set Dr Who for adults, complete with political, philosophical and more pettily personal problems; the use of the alien outsider's way of seeing the world is perceptive and provocative, the plentiful ideas counterbalance the lack of extravagant spectacle. Best of all, the film displays a droll wit (Friendship viewing a typewriter as a distant cousin, or concocting a surreal thesis on the big toe's importance in the oppression of women) and a surprising ability to touch the heart. With two impressive central performances, Wollen at last proves himself able to direct actors, and has made by far his most rewarding movie to date.
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