El Calentito

"Good"

El Calentito Review


During Spain's tumultuous post-Franco years, the late '70s and early '80s, the ultraconservative and uptight Catholic society began to crack open, and young people, most notably director Pedro Almodovar, came out to have fun. It was a moment later referred to as "La Movida." It's likely that when Pedro went barhopping, he hung around a place like El Calentito, the Madrid bar that gives this energetic movie its title. It's the kind of place where lesbian punk rockers hang out with tranny barkeeps and do drugs in the wildly painted bathroom stalls.

It's a very new world to Sara (Veronica Sanchez), a sweater-set-and-pearls kind of girl who agrees to accompany her impatient boyfriend -- he's been waiting weeks for her to allow him to cop a feel -- to the bar. Once there, however, she freaks out, and he dumps her on the spot. Drowning her sorrows with the dregs of everyone else's drinks, she passes out and awakens at the home of Leo (Macarena Gomez) and Carmen (Ruth Diaz), two members of the all-girl punk trip Las Siux (kind of like the Indian tribe). Carmen is a lesbian. Leo likes to perform topless. Their third member has just quit, so they need a body to fill her spot while they attend a record company meeting. Just like that Sara becomes a member of the group with reluctance, although it's clear she's eager to loosen up a bit and shock her parents.

Las Siux is more about style than talent. Even their song lyrics proclaim what bad singers they are, and they're not lying. The movie could do with far fewer of their atrocious musical numbers. But they have ambition, and even a military coup, tanks in the streets, and a general curfew won't dissuade them from performing an important gig at the bar. The brave transvestite bar owner Antonia (Nuria Gonzales) has had enough of society keeping her down. She's ready to stick it to the generals. The show must go own, even if a bunch of topless lesbians have to storm the barricades first, a threat that sadly never comes to fruition.

Though its probably no fun to live under the constant fear of jackboots kicking down your door, the kids who hang out at El Calentito are enjoying it, as if they're truly living for the first time. That's certainly true in the case of Sara, the film's main symbol of democracy triumphing over dictatorship. Sanchez is delightful in the role, as are her bandmates and crowd of fun-loving riff-raff who surround them. If you squint a bit and use your imagination, you can almost see young Pedro Almodovar dancing in the background.

Give "Stairway" a try next...



El Calentito

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th June 2005

Production compaines: TLA Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Chus Gutierrez

Producer: Tomás Cimadevilla

Starring: Verónica Sánchez as Sara, as Leo, Juan Sanz as Ernesto, Ruth Díaz as Carmen, Nuria González as Antonia

Also starring:

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