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Brandon Judell

Elvis and Madona: When "Girl" Meets Girl (and Pizza)

With the grace of a sledgehammer, Brazilian Marcelo Laffitte ventures into Almodóvar territory in his very first feature.

MADONA (Igor Cotrim) AND ELVIS (Simone Spoladore). Photo by Alisson Prodlik.

This semi-comic romance opens with Madona (Igor Cotrim), a pre-op transsexual, ordering a hearts of palm pizza. After snapping her cellular shut, the ultra-blonde femme fatale immediately gets punched out and robbed of her life savings by her co-star in porn films, the drug-dealing Tripod Joe. What's a girl to do? This "moolah" that she earned from hairdressing, a little oral sex, and the aforementioned porn, was to pay for her big drag show, which was to make her a star.

Miserable, lying on the floor, and afraid to go to the police, Madona cheers up instantly when her pizza is delivered by Elvis (Simone Spoladore), a cute butch lesbian, who started out life as an Elvira.

The motorcycle-riding Elvis, who freelances as a photographer for a local paper, has been forced--not unhappily-- into lower-class servitude when her bourgeois dad's finances recently took a dive.

Well, for some odd reason, a sexual attraction forms between the two rebels, and not long after the second pizza delivery, steamy love is served up with the mozzarella. And why not? Elvis asks. "I've never had anything with a woman, so why not be with a woman who isn't a woman?"

[Please note: Madona still has her male genitalia intact, and they function beautifully.]

So the two kiss and screw, and Madona sings, "I've got a woman's soul, but my heart is whatever you desire."

Ah! If only love ruled the day unchallenged. An inane plot device sadly intrudes into what could have been a totally whacky and slightly overacted but satisfying character study. You see, one afternoon while on a job, Elvis accidentally photographs Tripod Joe dealing. The well-hung crook consequently is imprisoned and promises he'll get his revenge.

Will he? And will Madona put on a show? And what will Elvis's parents say when she brings her "girlfriend" home for brunch? "All About My Mother" meets "La Cage aux Folles?" Well, not exactly. One only wishes that the audience could laugh as often and as loud as the characters do on screen.

Yet for all of its sexual outlandishness, directorial broad strokes, and with almost every gay featured a queen to the nth degree, there are still moments when "Elvis and Madona" rewards the viewer with its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink brazenness. You just don't see a tender lesbian/pre-op coupling every day, and if these two can become a functioning couple, then maybe the rest of us can, too.

(This is an offering from the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.)

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