VIVA (Anna Biller). 120 minutes. Screens Friday to Tuesday (February 29 to March 4) at the Royal. Rating: N
Viva gets it right, and so what? The late-60s-to-early-70s sexploitation flicks it so assiduously imitates were grating, incompetent bores, made and watched for one reason only – for the sex.
Censorship was just starting to loosen in the 60s, and softcore sex guaranteed a fast buck. The whole genre sank like a stone when Deep Throat hit in 1972 and legitimized hardcore.
Viva comes up short on the sex – too little, too late and too dry – but it’s got the rest down pat. There’s the amateurish acting, leaden pace, stupid dialogue, humourless jokes, irritating location sound, clumsy blocking and clunky camera work. It was no fun then and it’s no fun now.
Writer-director Anna Biller, who also produces, edits and stars, fares best with her art direction. She heightens the 70s cheese factor with clashing colours harmonized with just the right accents. But its thin pleasure can’t compensate for the bloated two-hour running time.
The limp story – a lonely housewife explores swinging without actually doing any – offers only clichés as genre commentary.
Revisiting old genres can work wonders. Look what Raiders Of The Lost Ark did to 1930s serials or Brick to the private-eye movie. But imitating old genres can, at best, raise an insider’s snigger.
That’s thin entertainment for two hours out of your life.