The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
* * * 1/2
Few people are as well-suited to playing a person not of this Earth as David Bowie. Here, he not only proves how perfect he is for that role, the role itself is so bizarre, as is the film, that it allows Bowie to be the greatest possible version of an alien on Earth. The movie itself is so unusual, such a product of the hyper-experimental 70s filmmaking, that Bowie ends up being the sturdy anchor to Nicholas Roeg's operatic carnival of the abstract.
Unlike Ken Russell, who is often weird for weirdness sake, Roeg casts a dreamlike spell with his imagery. Much of the film is of a type you wouldn't connect to my tastes. Scenes exist to leave an impression rather than make a point. The story is epic, but it develops so indirectly there are times you may feel it's slipping into incomprehension. However, that allows events to unfold like many small boxes filled with surprises. There's no telling which way things will go next. When it gets to the sex scene where the couple is getting off firing a gun towards each other while making love, it seems refreshingly normal in the moment.
Bowie keeps it centered and he plays it sad. He doesn't need to play up the action because his wild red hair and pale, fragile features are unworldly enough. (He looks too brittle to hold up under his situation.) He is Dorothy and we are the land of Oz, constantly offering him booze and sex and television, wearing down his resistance. He slowly gives up his dream until he becomes like us, a depressed, heavy drinker. Domesticated man.