Director: Emiliano Romero
Starring: Lautaro Delgado, Mauricio Dayub, Pompeyo Audivert . Spain. 1h 40m
I wasn’t prepared for this movie, the blurb and cover led me into thinking I was about to watch some kind of contemporary dance interpretation of a class war. The film highlights all of the key points that you’d expect from a futuristic class divide, similar to the one in Demolition Man (1993) but way more artistic but the twisted humor really brings the film into it’s own rites as a beautiful and funny look at how ridiculous we can be in dividing people.
Beginning with a close up of The Mole (Lautaro Delgado) applying heavy and dramatic theatrical makeup, similar to that in Black Swan (2010), in the background a girl bangs a drum and announces that the show is about to start… Cutting back in time, the first introduction goes to the squalid underworld of the moles or rats as they are called frequently throughout the film. El Topo’s father, Kongo is a revolutionary, hell bent on waging war against the world above and is determined that his children follow suit and remain loyal to the cause. In order to escape this fate, El Topo and his nymphomaniac sister kidnap a promising dancer, Amadeo, so El Topo can take his place in a dance academy. The story of El Topo is quite charming, he’s always dreamt of being a dancer and watches and studies the students through the vents and cracks, striving to get out of his world and into theirs, but once he’s in the school he realizes that he’s still an outsider, with poor hygiene and a bad posture but somehow this goes ignored but he enlists some help to perfect his skills and attempts to live his dream.
The world below is almost identical to the vegan sewer dwellers in Delicatessen (1991) the biggest difference is that the community here is much more advanced, with peddlers selling cooked rats and a thriving red light district, the world above is limited to ONLY the dancing school, there really isn’t a lot more to see, but it’s very surreal, the characters seem to have been set loose from the villains department of a scooby doo film, but what really connects both worlds is the dark insipid humor.
It’s obvious that Director, Writer and Producer Emiliano Romero has a air for melodrama and seems to apply it to scenes that don’t require that particular touch. It also struck me as being a little weird to make a movie about dance and not to employ a single dancer. This hasn’t stopped directors in the past, I don’t think that any of the cast of Suspiria (1977) we’re trained, but the dance scenes and the training lead to some very comical and surprisingly fluid scenes.
There are several strong points, the cinematography is actually quite good, the lighting successfully transverses both the over and underworld giving a studio feel to the upper scenes and an amber glow in the darkness of the underworld accompanied by pipes, plastic sheets and steampunk machinery it looks impressive, despite most scenes involving El Topo’s sister raping the young dancer that they kidnapped.
Overall a forgettable movie, with some very interesting and memorable characters. El Topo gives his hope that no matter what our situation we can still strive for our dreams, although I don’t know if we’d all have so much luck. There is a stupidly funny work out montage that Rocky would be proud of and a few other movie references that crop up and the silent Topo trips around his new world as a modern day Charlie Chaplin, thoroughly good stuff.
R – Lowlife (2012), Window Licker (2014), My Brother Jack (2013)
L – Selected Dancing movies, best workout montages
A – Class wars on film
5S – Mole Films
Vs – Topos Vs El Topo