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‘Pepi, Luci, Bom’ (NR)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 24, 1992

Pedro Almodovar showed not a whisker of promise in his amateurish directorial debut, a smutty sexual sideshow most safely viewed in a full body condom. "Pepi, Luci, Bom," a tediously antic mess that premiered in 1980 -- and is only now getting its U.S. release -- takes a soft-pornographic look at a Spanish national orgy after the death of Franco.

Almodovar's G-string of a plot concerns a rich heiress (Carmen Maura) who introduces a masochistic policeman's wife (Eva Siva) to a sadistic rock singer (Olivido Gara "Alaska"). The last belongs to a rancorous punk group, Bonitoni, whose frequent parties draw gay men who are fond of a party game called "General Erections." A voyeur across the way funds the frivolity, which he observes while cavorting with his bearded wife.

The heiress gets a job at an advertising company, where she promotes a new line of menstruating dolls; the wife goes back to her husband, who has become more abusive; the rocker finds consolation over a delicious traditional meal of cod. And after what seems like a year at a cocktail party where you don't know anybody, the ghastly business finally just stops.

Some critics say it all has to do with women's submissive role in Spanish society. Me, I think it's about flushing out Almodovar's id. He got it out of his system, whatever it was, and went on to direct such breakthrough films as "Matador," "Law and Desire" and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown."

"Pepi, Luci, Bom," in Spanish with subtitles, is unrated but thoroughly offensive.

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