Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)


Three drag queens (Terrence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce) travel in a bus across the desert to perform an act at a hotel as a favor for the ex-wife of one of them.

Some movies are cult hits because they bombed upon release and later gained a following, and some movies are a cult hits because they simply just appeal to a certain sect of society. Priscilla is, by all means, the latter in that argument. Over the top with attitude, costumes, and characters, Priscilla is part absurd adventures and part humanization of drag queens and transsexuals in our society. It handles both of these amusingly well, but at the back drop comes the fact that if you already humanize them, and don't care for their outlandish outfits, you'll find yourself annexed by the film.

Grounded by three solid performances, from three people whose movies I grew up watching, Priscilla is able, on some level, to shine a light on the difficult lifestyle of drag queens. While it does attempt to understand them as well, each cast member getting a single flash back, in some, what I would call mis-guided, effort to explain where they come from. It's simplification is matched only by the absurd, and sometimes funny, situations they get them into. On some level I felt as if the movie was trying to force me to laugh at them (especially when it comes to the outfits), instead of with them. Yet these are three real people, with real social struggles, and personal dreams.

Not all of these are well explored, and the movie gets by on the many entertaining situations it puts them into. But finding reasons to care is really up to the viewer. Priscilla drops you a few lines here and there, but much of the film's development doesn't take place except in a couple of setup scenes. In between there's a lot of singing, costumes, dancing, and boredom. If you're into the music you'll likely find this fun, and full of excitement. If not, you'll be stuck perhaps laughing at their actions, or trying to understand why. Still I suppose I sound a bit too negative. I got a good amount of laughs from the movie, and it held my attention perfectly fine, I just never felt enough of a connection to really care, or enjoy, everything it presented.

While it's outlandish persona will inspire love from many, it only managed to inspire indifference from me, someone who was looking for a little less pizazz, and a little more heart.

1 better thoughts:

Michele Emrath said...

I love Guy Pearce, and I loved Too Wong Foo, but I couldn't get into this one. Didn't it win an Oscar, though? Costumes, maybe?

AND--You have an award on today's award post at my blog! Also, I listed some personal movie preferences today in your honor. :)


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