Pepi, Luci, Bom (Spain, 1980):
(Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otras Chicas del Montón)

The trio of eponymous chicks cavorting through the punked-out Madrid of Pedro Almodóvar's first official feature (after such prickly-sounding esoteria as La Caída de Sódoma and Folle... Folle... Fólleme Tim!) revels in liberating raunchiness -- if Carlos Saura's Franco-era Geraldine Chaplin heroines trudged with corseted appetites, Almodóvar's freewheeling gal pals greet each other with golden showers. Pepi's (Almodóvar axiom Carmen Maura) plan of selling her virginity to the highest bidder is ruined by her inconvenient rape at the hands of the macho cop across the street (Félix Rotaeta), so to get even she sets out to corrupt Luci (Eva Siva), his doormat of a wife. Not much work there, since Luci already has kinkiness shooting out of her curlers, and is more than happy to play submissive groupie to Bom's (Olvido "Alaska" Gara) stomping dyke rocker. Shot in crummy 16mm and later blown up to 35mm, the picture skitters about, cabaret-style, through funny cartoon hamming, cock-measuring contests, mock-commercials about fart-purifying panties, and a whiskered housewife doing bits from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Its polymorphous zest and casual crudeness have the pungency of early De Palma or John Waters, but the ecstatic vulgarity is very much Almodóvar's -- grungy hedonism as a political act of restoration. Also with Concha Grégori, Cecilia Roth, Julieta Serrano, and Cristina Sánchez Pascual.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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