'Kiki, Love to Love' ('Kiki, Love Is Done'): Film Review | Hollywood Reporter

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from the album Diva ·
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Writers & Publishers from the album Diva · · Lyrics Terms of Use

If Pedro Almodovar was starting out now, his films would not look so different from Paco Leon's. Following up two cult hits featuring Leon's mother as the estimable Carmina, Kiki, Love to Love is sexy, daring, transgressive, brightly colored and often very funny, mixing up its five interwoven stories of people enjoying - and suffering - their sexual fetishes into an upbeat, vibrant crowd-pleaser which has seen it dislodge Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice from the top of Spain's box-office rankings. That "somebody understands me" sense that people had 30 years ago when they watched Women on the Edge of Nervous Breakdown , their kids will feel when they watch Kiki (after due Sevillian director Leon - who's canny enough to know all of this - then it's not entirely misplaced.

Since there are plenty of people around who are nostalgic for the early-mid Almodovar, offshore sales are a real possibility for this distinctively Spanish outing (which is a transposal of Josh Lawson's Australian sex comedy The Little Death : Leon borrows the plot of the original, but absolutely not its spirit). The only thing standing in Kiki s way is its idiom-heavy dialogue, which would require the subtitling miracle to translate in all its fruity glory.

Throughout, Kiki skillfully straddles the line between the comedy you'd expect and the compassion which makes it work at a deeper level. After sex with b.f. Alex (Alex Garcia - most characters have their actors' names), Natalia (Natalia Molina, who recently won the best actress Goya) confesses to him that she recently had an orgasm whilst being robbed at knifepoint. The word for this is 'harpaxophilia,' and the script has a lot of fun with Alex's attempts to please her by faking a robbery.

But it's not all about good-looking young couples. Middle-aged Antonio (Luis Callejo) and Maria Candelaria run a fairground attraction and their sex life too is on the rocks until she discovers that she is sexually aroused by seeing people cry (dacryphilia): Cue attempts to make Luis sad. It sounds cheesy, but the quality of the performances - which is general across the film - and the nuanced scripting means it works.

Sadder is still the story of plastic surgeon Jose Luis (Luis Bermejo), married to wheelchair-ridden Paloma (Mary Peace Sayago), who treats him with cold disdain. (More Almodovar: this time, Talk to Her) . This sounds suspiciously like sexual assault, but the script is not as quick as some viewers will be to rush to judgment, since it's clear that there is love between Jose Luis and Paloma, and that's standing in its way is her self-hatred. Under the comic surface it's dark, subtle stuff, through this part of the film, at least.

Mercedes Peña, watercolors
The participants in the course, watercolorists from Seville and some from Huelva, follow closely the execution of the work. The photo I took with the ipad, as I could, from the side, so it seems that it is inclined, but it is perfect.

We're on slightly wobblier ground with the story of Sandra (Alexandra Jimenez), deaf, neurotic lizard- keeping cloth-fetishist who does good work but fights to fuse those parts together into something credible, just as that description suggests she will. There is an air of desperate comedy about the early scenes of this story which is absent.

Less important to the film than the stories themselves are the hilarious set-pieces they work up to. One elegantly choreographed sequence featuring Jose Luis making love to the sleeping Paloma in a variety of poses is one example of how to wordlessly blend humor and pathos. A lengthy, wordless Skype chat between Sandra and her would similarly gathers up the story into a couple of skillfully handled minutes.

Behind much of Kiki , of course, there is an acidic criticism of what it means to be "normal" in our society, of the conservative social pressures which are quick to banish the other to a life of solitude, insecurity and self-harm (there is a fair bit of violence bubbling below the surface of these characters' lives). All the main characters are dealing with some insecurity or other, and it's this - together with the script's understanding of those insecurities - which make the film resonate interestingly, beyond being the "erotic-festive comedy" its publicity sells it as. The split between society's claims on ourselves and our claims are most starkly in the minor character of Jose Luis' Filipino maid Loreley. She's earning a lot of money but she's ready to spend a lot of money on her boss to give her bigger breasts. (A little blackmail works the problem out.)

Kiko de la Rica's camerawork is snappy and energetic , key to the zippy rhythm of the project as a whole. The film's fresh, clean look - featuring beautifully designed interiors and bright colors, all bathed in the intense white light of a sweltering, sexy Madrid August (the film ends with a collective scene at one of the city's legendary summer street fairs) - are another reminder of a long-ago Almodovar. Dialogues are heavily reliant on the language and rhythms of Leon's native Sevillle. The initial credits sequence, featuring humans morphing into animals - to remind us perhaps of the primary instincts which we seem to have become divorced from - is a memorable standalone.

Not rated, 102 minutes