Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pepi, Luci, Bom

Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, Pepi, Luci, Bom, y otras chicas del monton (Pepi, Luci, Bom, and Other Girls on the Heap) is the story about the friendship of three different women who live very different lives as they try to help each other. The film marks the feature-film debut of Pedro Almodovar as it is all told in a comedic style that would become a definitive trademark of Almodovar’s early work. Starring Carmen Maura, Eva Siva, and Olvido “Alaska” Gara. Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del monton is a weird yet exciting film from Pedro Almodovar.

The film explores the lives of three different women in Madrid during the post-Franco La Movida Madrilena period in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The three women come together as part of a revenge scheme against an abusive police officer as they would later be part of a new and exciting world in Madrid where they delve into drugs and all sorts of excitement. What makes the film so unique are the different personalities of the women in the story. Pepi (Carmen Maura) is an independent woman who wants to become an artist as she grows marijuana plants in her apartment. Luci (Eva Siva) is the masochistic housewife of a corrupt policeman who enjoys beatings as she is seeking an escape from her dreary home life. Bom (Olvido “Alaska” Gara) is a young punk singer eager to make it as she falls for Luci where the two have a strange relationship.

Pedro Almodovar’s script is very loose where there isn’t much plot other than Pepi wanting to seek revenge on Luci’s husband (Felix Rotaeta) for raping her over her marijuana plants. Bom would help Pepi in the revenge scheme but things don’t go well over a case of mistaken identity as Luci becomes involved where her relationship with Bom becomes this unconventional masochistic relationship. In the course of the film, a lot of partying as well as Pepi getting a job in advertisement, after her father cuts her finances, would play into the lives of these women finding themselves as women and as individuals.

Almodovar’s direction is pretty loose as it’s shot on 16mm film blown-up into 35mm where it does have a unique style that recalls the style of John Cassavetes as well as the colorful look of Federico Fellini. That approach to loose filmmaking where it feels like it’s shot entirely in the urban areas of Madrid and in the actual city where it has a verite style in some respects but also an element of camp to play into this this very lively post-Franco period of Spain. The campiness just doesn’t play into some of the ideas that Pepi would create in the commercials but also in some of the misadventures the three women encounter. There’s also elements of very bawdy behavior and gross-out moments that is obviously inspired by John Waters as it plays to the masochistic relationship between Luci and Bom which amps up the film’s humor. Overall, Almodovar creates a very flourishing and lively film about three women living in a new world in post-Franco Spain.

Cinematographer Paco Femenia does nice work with the film‘s colorful yet grainy 16mm look of the film for much of its daytime and nighttime exterior scenes. Editor Jose Salcedo does excellent work with the editing by emphasizing on style with some jump-cuts and a few inter-title cards to play into the film‘s structure. Costume designer Manuela Camacho does fantastic work with the lavish look of the film to play into the women and the new world they‘re in as opposed to the more conservative look of Luci‘s husband.

The makeup work of Juan Farsac is wonderful as it plays into that lavish world the women are in. The sound work of Miguel Angel Polo is terrific for some of the sound effects that is created as well as some of the post-dubbing voices to play into its humor. The film’s music by Alaska y los Pegamoides is superb as it plays into that world of new wave and punk that often dominates the film along with some flamenco and classical music in the film.

The film’s cast would include and appearance from Almodovar as a host of a penis-erection contest along with other future Almodovar collaborators like Cecilia Roth as a commercial actress, Julietta Serrano as a theater actress dressed like Scarlett O’Hara, Kiti Manver as a singer/model the ladies meet late in the film, and Fabio McNamara as a transvestite named Roxy. Concha Gregori is terrific as Luci’s neighbor Charito who has feelings for Luci’s brother-in-law Juan whom she has never properly met while Felix Rotaeta is wonderfully slimy in a dual role as Luci’s very abusive husband and his very innocent twin brother.

Olvido “Alaska” Gara is excellent as the very abrasive yet determined punk singer Bom who falls for Luci while becoming unsure about the sadomasochistic relationship. Eva Siva is brilliant as the masochistic housewife Luci who finds pleasure in being beaten as she falls for Bom while being part of a new and vibrant world that she is unaware about. Finally, there’s Carmen Maura in a dazzling performance as Pepi as this very independent woman seeking to find herself in a new world she’s glad to be a part of while helping out her friends find their own direction as it’s truly a fun performance from Maura.

Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del monton is a stellar yet lively film from Pedro Almodovar. Thanks to its cast and campy presentation, it is a film that plays into that world of post-Franco Spain and the emergence of freedom that was emerging for all sorts of people. In the end, Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del monton is a dazzling film from Pedro Almodovar.

Pedro Almodovar Films: Labyrinth of Passion - Dark Habits - What Have I Done to Deserve This? - Matador - Law of Desire - Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! - High Heels - Kika - The Flower of My Secret - Live Flesh - All About My Mother - Talk to Her - Bad Education - Volver - Broken Embraces - The Skin I Live In - I'm So Excited - Julieta - Pain & Glory - (The Human Voice (2020 short film)) - (Parallel Mothers)

The Auteurs #37: Pedro Almodovar Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2014


ruth said...

For some reason I haven't seen any film by Almodovar, but from your earlier reviews, I'm most curious about All About My Mother and Volver. Not sure about this one to be honest.

thevoid99 said...

Well, I'm going through an exploration into Almodovar's body of work as he's one of my Auteurs subjects as I got most of his 80s films to cover plus 2 early 90s films he did w/ Victoria Abril.

As a debut film, it's pretty good though it's one where you have expect some campiness and not take it so seriously as it's very different from the work he's done in the past 20 years.

Dell said...

I love Almodovar, but I haven't seen this one, yet. He is an awesome filmmaker and it will be great to take a look at his humble beginnings. Thanks!

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell Ottley-Thank you. It's a film to seek out on the net though I suggest going through torrents to find this and other early Almodovar films.