1 July 2012 | Red-Barracuda
Cool and offbeat
Kika is a movie whose plot sounds tasteless beyond belief if merely read aloud. After all it features an extended rape scene played for laughs; the rapist himself is a porn star who has sexually assaulted so many girls that his sister forms an incestuous relationship with him to take his mind off raping even more women. This is hardly typical comic fare it has to be said. Imagine if in 1979 Mel Brooks had decided to make a spoof of I Spit on Your Grave, the results would have been an absolute travesty. That's what the synopsis of Kika makes you think of. However, Kika was made by Pedro Almodóvar and for some reason he seems to be capable of making even the most grossly offensive material so completely ridiculous it comes at you in reverse and can be alarmingly funny. The rape scene in Kika is comedic and before watching the movie I simply could not understand how such a thing could ever be.
The film is named after the cosmetologist played by Veronica Forqué. But the movie is not really her story, it has several memorable characters. Ramón is a young photographer whose mother commits suicide. Nicholas is his womanising step-father. The latter hires Kika to work on the corpse of Ramón, who comes back to life unexpectedly and embarks on a relationship with Kika. Kika's maid Juana is a lesbian who is in love with Kika, her brother Pablo is the porn star rapist. All the time in the background on the television is Andrea (a.k.a. Scarface) the host of a reality TV show that celebrates real life tragedy, death and destruction. The movie concludes with an unexpected serial killer plot strand.
It's true that the story is somewhat chaotic. There are so many separate ideas in here that the film seems a bit unfocused. But because it is essentially a comedy this isn't really so much of a problem. While there is a lot of silly humour, the film is mainly a media satire. With this in mind the most important and memorable character is Andrea who is kitted out in some fantastically over-the-top Jean-Paul Gaultier outfits, including her street gear which includes a helmet with attached movie camera. Victoria Abril is really excellent in this role. She is simultaneously wicked and sexy at all times. The scenes of her broadcasting her show from a stage are the most visually iconic in the movie. She roams the streets of Madrid intrusively filming scenes of grieving people and aftermaths of violent encounters. She is the black heart of Kika.
Despite the controversial moments it's simply impossible to take the events depicted at all seriously. Almodóvar's typical colourful aesthetic is present throughout and the tone is consistently absurd. This means that he gets away with material that would have been contentious otherwise. As it is, Kika is very entertaining.