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‘Kika’ (NR)

By Joe Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 27, 1994

As soon as you see the keyhole in the opening credits, you know that "Kika" is going to be about voyeurism, crime and comically voluptuous women. And you sense that it could only have been made by Pedro Almodovar. Trashy and melodramatic, hysterically, brazenly, luridly, zanily sex-obsessed, the kooky, kinky "Kika" takes everything to sweet excess.

Spain's outre answer to Russ Meyer and John Waters, the rogue director champions style over substance, over everything. So it doesn't matter that "Kika" doesn't make sense -- doesn't even try to make sense. It's just so much fun to watch.

Almodovar unleashes his usual ensemble of women on the verge -- including vampy Victoria Abril, the stunningly homely Rossy de Palma and lethally tan Bibi Andersen -- on a hopelessly snarled story. It spins eccentrically around American writer Nicholas (Peter Coyote, perhaps washed ashore from his star-crossed cruise in "Bitter Moon") and his assorted lovers, including chatterbox beautician Kika (Veronica Forque), who lives with Nicholas's stepson Ramon (Alex Casanovas), a handsome lingerie photographer. (They met when Kika arrived to touch up Ramon's cold corpse for the undertaker, and he had a resurrection when she began stroking on his rouge.)

Abril is Andrea Scarface, producer and host of a show called "Today's Worst," who scours the city garbed in an Elvira-esque costume complete with head-mounted videocamera (with floodlights on her breasts) to present real-life crimes and scandals, intrusively plaguing the surviving relatives of victims for grief-stricken quotes. Then there's Kika's lesbian maid Juana (de Palma), who daydreams of becoming a prison matron and invites her bestial brother Pablo (Santiago Lajusticia), a recently escaped porno star and convicted criminal, to hide out in Kika's apartment. Here Almodovar actually plays a drawn-out rape scene for laughs -- and gets away with it.

Almodovar's outlandish plot designs are enhanced by outrageous Versace and Gaultier fashions -- the splashy clash of stripes, plaids, dots, checks and unnatural colors are a perfect match for the kitschy collage that is "Kika."

KIKA (Not rated) -- In Spanish with subtitles.

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