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Monday 08 November 2010

Film review: Elvis and Madona

Posted in: Movies
By Jacqui Stanford - 26th August 2010


Elvis and Madona
Brazil, 105 minutes
Director: Marcelo Laffitte
With Simone Spoladore as Elvis and Igor Cotrim as Madona

It's an unlikely on-screen romantic pairing. A trans showgirl and a lesbian photographer who delivers pizzas to pay the bills. Throw an unplanned pregnancy into the mix and you have the camp, frivolous Brazilian romantic comedy Elvis and Madona.

The film is showing at the Reel Brazil Film Festival which opens today in Auckland, before travelling to Wellington and Queenstown.

The first meeting between the pair at the centre of the film comes when cute, ruffled motorbike-riding dyke Elvis delivers a pizza to Madona, finding the statuesque performer has been bashed and robbed by her ex-boyfriend. Rather than tragic, Madona's distress is so campy it's comic, chiefly because even with her long blonde hair she still has an unfortunate resemblance to Robert Downey Junior.

That resemblance lessens a little when Madona does what every girl does in a time of need – gets a makeover. Luckily she works in a salon and her excitable colleagues make her a new woman in no time.

Even before the fabulous makeover there is an instant attraction between Elvis and Madona. This is first acted upon in a scene which plays with every cliché lesbian movie moment – a black-clad and serious-eyed Elvis straddles her motorbike and leans over to kiss not some femme hipster, but a transwoman.

The relationship quickly develops and the sex happens with surprisingly little fuss, considering Elvis was moments before a card-carrying lesbian. Perhaps there should have been a little more fuss and they would have remembered a condom – but instead there is something not common in queer films: an unwanted pregnancy.

Although mostly a romantic comedy, the film does have a shadowy subplot, which isn't really scary enough to make Elvis and Madona dark. Instead the film is a light laugh and a bit of camp fun, which manages to throw the notions of relationship gender-dynamics on their head in an incredibly understated manner.

- Jacqui Stanford

For more information on the Reel Brazil Film Festival click here

Jacqui Stanford - 26th August 2010

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