In September of 2006, the INS arrested two men involved in what was described as “a complex international visa fraud and alien smuggling scheme.” The pair had supplied nearly 900 immigrants with fake visas that declared them “aliens with extraordinary ability” in the circus arts. Saviana Stanescu’s new comedy at the Women’s Project centers on two victims of this scheme: Nadia (Natalia Payne), a naïf from Moldova, and her Russian friend Borat (Seth Fisher). Hounded by the INS, they flee to New York, where Borat can drive a taxi and Nadia—who still wants to work as a clown—can see “all those restaurants from Sex and the City.”
Stanescu’s plot quickly shifts from escape drama to cutesy romance as Nadia and Borat struggle for money, love, and green cards, the script flitting between realism and the fairy-tale worlds of The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella. Director Tea Alagic derives nice performances from the leads (despite their wavering accents), yet she abets the script in its slide toward the saccharine. Stanescu, a Romanian immigrant, does have extraordinary skills—so says her O1 Visa. But Aliens doesn’t really display them.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 8, 2008