Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (Pedro Almodóvar, 1980)


Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón, directed by Pedro Almodóvar (1980).

Score: Dafuq did I just watch.

The film opens with Pepi (Carmen Maura), who might be fifteen, twenty-five or thirty-five, I’m not sure, who is at home playing with a sticker album and minding her own business. A policeman (Félix Rotaeta) shows up and tries to fine her for a bunch of marijuana plants she has in her balcony. Pepi tries to seduce her way out of the fine but ends up getting raped and plans her revenge. She asks her punk friends, led by Bom (Olvido Gara, “Alaska”) to beat him up and they proceed to do so, dressed as chulapos and luring him by singing zarzuela. Since that doesn’t work, Pepi decides to approach Luci (Eva Siva), the policeman’s wife and have her leave her husband. Luci starts a torrid BDSM relationship with Bom after the punk singer gives Luci a golden shower like thirty seconds after they’ve met.

This film is made of borderline absurdist vignettes joined by Pepi’s revenge scheme, and all of them are deeply queer. The action swerves between punk parties including dick size contests, a bearded woman scolding her husband for not wanting her (plot twist: he wants men), a transvestite seducing/harassing a courier or an ad designed by Pepi for a kind of panties that turn farts into fragrance. And despite how nonsensical the whole thing is, you can see a deep sarcasm and a sharp look upon society, despite Almodóvar’s inexperience.

Almodóvar’s first full-length was made over the course of two years in his spare time and mostly funded by his friends. It looks cheap because it is cheap (look out for the scene where Alaska is singing into an extension cord instead of a microphone), but hey, I’ve seen stuff at Guggenheim Bilbao that looked exactly the same and it was intentional. Despite the many rookie errors, the movie is exhilarating because it exudes passion for cinema, for art, and doesn’t care about making mistakes, since those are who make greatness in any field.

As you probably guessed already, not for the faint of heart or easily offended. If you are able to look past the irreverence and disregard for conventions, it is a fun film to watch, and living history of Spanish cinema. For some weird reason, this movie manages to be optimistic and cute despite all the sordid stuff that happens in it.

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