Picks and Pans Review: Kika

updated 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Verónica Forqué, Victoria Abril Rossy De Palma

At first, Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodóvar (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) seems to be in good form with this typically flamboyant comedy melodrama. He slowly and skillfully draws together such outlandish characters as the scatterbrained makeup artist of the title (Forqué); a lesbian maid whose great wish in life is to be a prison matron (De Palma); and a headline-crazed tabloid-TV hostess (Abril, decked out in elaborate Jean-Paul Gaultier costumes that make her look like the most beautiful squid in the world). He also comes up with some inspired bits of nonsense (the kindly-old hostess of a book-chat show apologizes to a guest for not having read his latest but promises to pass it on to her grandchildren). Then Forqué is raped, by a sex maniac on the lam, in a prolonged, extremely unpleasant sequence that Almodóvar has decided to stage as frantic bedroom farce. From here on out, the movie, which winds up a Hitchcockian thriller with a couple of twists, is effectively dead. Nothing can make the viewer forget the nastiness of that rape. Almodóvar could have conjured the ghost of Franco and commanded it to sing The Girl from Ipanema, and it wouldn't have helped. (Not Rated)

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