Not rated, 114 min. Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Starring Veronica Forque, Victoria Abril, Peter Coyote, Alex Casanovas.
The unrepentantly twisted Almodóvar returns to form after the disappointing Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! with this genuinely bizarre indictment of everything from tabloid journalism to romantic entanglements. Forque is Kika, a blowzy blonde makeup artist and sideline nymphomaniac who falls in love (more or less) with a corpse she's been hired to make over one day. The corpse Ramon (Casanovas), as it turns out, is merely in a cataleptic trance (although the necrophilic possibilities in an Almodóvar film remain highly interesting), and Kika falls in love. Making this a bizarre love triangle is Peter Coyote as Ramon's writer uncle and Kika's sometime lover. Coyote seems to be making a second career out of playing American hacks. The most irreverent touch here (and that's saying something) is Abril as a newscaster/media darling known as Scarface. Done up in some of Jean-Paul Gaultier's more outlandish costumes (and that's saying something else), she's the host of a television program fittingly titled Today's Worst, which covers sex, death, and violence like Hard Copy wished it could. Gaultier has outfitted her in a black, militaristic newscaster's ensemble complete with a helmet-mounted video unit so that she can catch the gore as it happens. Almodóvar keeps the pacing fast and tight; this is the lean, stripped-down director of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown working on all 12 cylinders and apparently loving every minute of it. A riot of colors, Kika is sometimes sick, sometimes playful, but consistently hilarious and entertaining in ways that few films have been lately.
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