Filmmaker Roy Kafri’s Milky Shot is a quirky, compelling examination of human nature combining the fantastical with the mundane.
The film opens with an alien floating through space—something that initially seems right out of Star Trek. However, Milky Shot quickly takes a different direction as an asteroid approaches the alien; rather than seem threatened, the alien is excited by the prospect of companionship and is subsequently disappointed when the asteroid evades a collision. However, the alien looks elated when it sees something else in its path—Earth, and more specifically the metal spoons on Earth, which greatly resemble its own form. The alien abducts all the spoons, much to the surprise of cereal eaters and coffee stirrers below. From there, the film shifts to the human response—news articles and debates about the alien’s intentions, declarations of violence and marketing campaigns, fan boys wanting to make documentaries about the event, etc—as all try to discover the alien’s intentions regarding their spoons.
The brilliance of Milky Shot derives from its balance between absurdist and realistic elements. The alien itself is the most prominent example of absurdism. The film quickly establishes the newcomer’s innocence following its encounter with the asteroid, not recognizing the danger to itself but rather betraying its core characterizing element: a desire for companionship. The alien’s spoon-like appearance is simultaneously charming and ridiculous, its verbalizations clear to the viewer yet masking its intentions to the people of earth below. The highly expressive animation used to create the alien’s face is particularly well done—it creates a sympathetic and relatable character for the audience despites its complete strangeness.
The initial scenes of Earth’s spoons rising up to meet the alien are also brilliant in their encapsulation of the mundane, disrupted—a man looks up at his rising spoon with his unstirred coffee in the background, a child bites down on air as her befuddled mother tries to feed her, and a blind man asks his girlfriend what she is doing to him as his ice cream laden spoon slides up his face. All show the centrality of this object to daily life that is taken for granted until it is gone. Rather than slipping into the mass hysteria and panic associated with the aftermath of alien abduction, Milky Shot instead smartly shifts into a realistic mode, yielding far more subtlety and depth.
Milky Shot is a brilliant satire of the human response to phenomena, emerging first when a newscaster’s voice is overlaid with images of floating spoons stating, “A difficult day for the citizens of the world. Where do our spoons go?” The statement is of course completely absurd and yet the medium in which it is delivered allows the audience to suspend their disbelief. The scenes of pundits fighting over what the alien intends goes even further, using familiar phrases and positions from contemporary debates (for example, “we have to attack immediately,” “These spoons belong to us,” “I can assure you that my client is a sensitive alien”). The alien spoon is made a placeholder for almost every hot button issue. The film’s agenda to lampoon the media becomes clear. It goes further by also satirizing consumerist culture—for example an ad for food that does not require a spoon comes on the TV though the alien has only just arrived, two friends jockey to make a documentary about the new media sensation in their midst, etc.
Milky Shot’s quirky premise is used to create trenchant social satire. Everything is televised, sensationalized, labeled as a threat if it cannot be explained, and commoditized before it is understood. The film’s charming exterior houses an important truth: humans wouldn’t know a real if threat if they saw one.