Tattoo Bar

Exotic locales, an attractive cast and lush photography can't disguise the fact that Spanish writer-director Jo Sol's debut feature is little more than a tediously overblown soap opera. After three blissful years spent making love and tattooing each other's bodies in faraway India, golden-haired Simona (Mercedes Ortega) and her Cuban-born lover, Francis...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Exotic locales, an attractive cast and lush photography can't disguise the fact that Spanish writer-director Jo Sol's debut feature is little more than a tediously overblown soap opera. After three blissful years spent making love and tattooing each other's bodies in faraway India, golden-haired Simona (Mercedes Ortega) and her Cuban-born lover, Francis (Miguel Molina), return to Spain to help Francis's brother, Mariel (Alexis Valdes), get out of jail. Back in Barcelona, Simona takes over Mariel's boarded-up cantina and transforms it into a hip "tattoo bar," where patrons can drink then have their genitals pierced and their skin painted in the parlor upstairs. Mariel is soon a free man, but it's entirely due to the efforts of Bug (Paulina Galvez), Mariel's heroin addicted wife, who appeals to powerful Cuban expatriate, pimp and police informer Enrique (Carlos LaSarte), who's responsible for Mariel being in jail in the first place. Prison has changed Mariel, a former cameraman who was wounded in the eye while fighting in Angola. He now wants only to return to his real home in Cuba, but he's intrigued by Simona, who's devastated when footloose Francis decides it's time to once again move on — this time without her. The brokenhearted Simona has taken to dancing naked in the window of the bar, gyrating to the music in her head while dreaming of her lover and displaying the images he left on her skin. A furiously jealous Bug, whom Mariel married after a week's acquaintance in order to become a Spanish citizen, thinks Simona has lost her mind. Mariel, meanwhile, is transfixed. With all the glossy sex, you'd be forgiven for thinking Zalman King was directing, except that even King knows you don't need such a ludicrously complicated plot to show pretty people having sex. Each character is so burdened with gratuitous back story that it's exhausting trying to separate the grain from the chaff, until you realize none of it matters at all.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Exotic locales, an attractive cast and lush photography can't disguise the fact that Spanish writer-director Jo Sol's debut feature is little more than a tediously overblown soap opera. After three blissful years spent making love and tattooing each other'… (more)

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