Pedro Almodovar ingeniously makes the bizarre seem normal in PEPI, LUCI, BOM AND OTHER GIRLS ON THE HEAP, his subversive second feature.
A fascistic cop (Felix Rotaeta) busts into Pepi's (Carmen Maura) kitschy flat to hassle her over marijuana plants she grows in her window. She offers him sexual favors beneath a lifesize Wonder Woman poster--anything but the stealing of her virginity which she is saving to sell for a good price.
He takes it anyway and Pepi plots her revenge. She enlists a streetwise teenage friend Bom (Olvido "Alaska" Gara), the band leader of "Bomitoni," and her musicians to rough up the cop. Pepi is delighted when they bump into him on a deserted street. The band pulls the wool over his eyes by aping a
wandering opera troop and then jumps him. It turns out, though, that they ambushed the cop's twin brother.
Undaunted, Pepi inveigles a meeting with his spouse, a mousey housefrau named Luci (Eva Siva) and tries to get at him through her. She approaches Luci and convinces her to give her knitting lessons. Pepi lets Luci know she is after her husband at the first lesson. Luci doesn't seem to mind, she is
willing to be bossed around by anyone--she likes it even, as displayed by her impassioned gasp when Pepi pokes her with a knitting needle. Bom comes to visit and it is immediately obvious that Luci and Bom are an S&M match made in heaven. Luci is introduced to the girls' rollicking scene of music,
drugs and parties peopled with friends predisposed to any and every sexual flavor, and she loves it and leaves the vicious cop.
Pepi's father, meanwhile, is fed up with his daughter's lifestyle and and threatens to cut off her allowance. Imaginative woman that she is, Pepi finds a job at a quirky ad agency and quickly becomes queen bee. One night, the cop stalks Luci out with the girls at a disco. When she goes outside to
get Bom cigarettes, he brutally attacks her, landing her bruised and broken in the hospital. It's the happiest she's ever been. After a few days Pepi and Bom discover what's happened and rush to save her. But Luci is blissful now that her husband has finally abused her and tells them to scat. Luci
and Bom wander off disappointed but looking forward to the possibilities this turn in life might inspire.
Shot on 16mm after making several shorts like TWO WHORES and THE FALL OF SODOM, culminating in the Super-8 feature FUCK, FUCK, FUCK ME TIM, Almodovar's PEPI, LUCI, BOM AND OTHER GIRLS ON THE HEAP approaches a John Waters's aesthetic--one-take, bouncy camerawork and crackling sound, frantic almost
improvised performances, and a color scheme suitable for a drinks menu at a Polynesian restaurant. Almodovar circles Waters's themes as well, including perversion, gender-role questions, social deviance and wickedness. What distinguishes Almodovar from Waters and other directors of their ilk is
his unleashed optimism and delight in life. In some scenes he turns the project into a mad party for his friends, a collection of drag queens and rockers and other night creatures on the fringe, celebrating the end of the Franco years. He reigns over their hell-raising while also presenting an
incisive examination of the macho police state this new freedom burst from.
As Pepi, Admodovar regular Carmen Maura strides though the center of this joyous anti-establishment mess on her long bandy legs. She's poodle-haired, ebullient and powerful, the childlike mother of the whole gang and the embodiment of Almodovar's impish, quicksilver vision. As her companions, Gara
and Siva sparkle less but are also convincing in their quirky roles of cringing frump and misanthropic punk. Almodovar's trump is how homey these three feel. Through a few quiet moments when they are softly chatting or cooking, he brings the whole film down to earth and expresses how beautifully
human, and therefore sympathetic, all the characters in his universe are. (Violence, profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1980
- Rating: NR
- Review: Pedro Almodovar ingeniously makes the bizarre seem normal in PEPI, LUCI, BOM AND OTHER GIRLS ON THE HEAP, his subversive second feature. A fascistic cop (Felix Rotaeta) busts into Pepi's (Carmen Maura) kitschy flat to hassle her over marijuana plants she… (more)