After his wife commits suicide, famous American author Nicholas Pierce (Peter Coyote, wielding fluent Spanish!) lusts after coquettish esthetician Kika (Veronica Forque, What Have I Done to Deserve This?) as she slips between his sheets and the bed of his wildly successful photographer stepson in this unfurling, Matroyshka-esque narrative centered on a wide-eyed woman constantly “looking for direction.” With heavy nods toward the mammary-worshiping Russ Meyer, this near-Shakespearean tragicomedy is a visual feast of expressive color, drunk on the emerging post-Franco Spanish aesthetic that encouraged artistic individuality. Outrageous, bosom-bearing (and curiously accentuating) costume contributions come from Jean-Paul Gaultier, made specifically for pre-YouTube exploitation TV host Andrea “Scarface” Caracortada (Victoria Abril, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!). This glorious celebration of pop and high art plays death and sex alternately for laughs in one of Almodóvar’s most visually sensational feats, overflowing with the dark, often funny absurdity of everyday life.

Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 1993, DCP, 114 min.

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