Locos por el sexo

Locos por el sexoSynopsis: A wild and raucous comedy of lunatic asylum inmates who get some truly original therapy…a day trip to a brothel! There’s a motley array of colorful characters including a mother-fixated “save the planet” freak with a fear of women, and another who thinks he’s God. Holding it all together is the posing and preening local madam played by the fantastic Neus Asensi (Torrente), Sex Crazy is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in Spanish!

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Locos por el sexo 6.5

eyelights: the locos setting. the French-speaking Madam.
eyesores: the traditional plot development.

‘Locos por el sexo’ is an odd bird that I picked up while purchasing a Catherine Breillat film on eBay. As I sometimes do, out of curiosity (or in this case to save on shipping), I looked at the seller’s other offerings, and ended up getting another half dozen DVDs, including this one. There were too many intriguing titles, many of which were obscure foreign ones, to ignore.

What pulled me about this one was that it is a Spanish comedy about a bunch of loonies who are sent to a whorehouse as form of psychiatric treatment. To me, it had the makings of a lovely romp, not unlike the weirdness of early Almodóvar. So, despite the weak rating on imdb, and given that there isn’t much to substantiate this rating, I decided to give it a go.

Writer-director Javier Rebollo’s ‘Locos por el sexo’ started off in a truly promising way: with no time to waste, we are introduced to our main character, Nono (which means “ninth” in Spanish, but which I translated as “silly”, given its use in French-Canada), trying to run away from his mother and a priest who are trying to hook him up for marriage.

His escape foiled by a passing vehicle, he is quickly committed to a local psychiatric facility run by a progressive psychiatrist who believes in trying alternative methods of treatment. Nono’s mother is convinced that this more gentle approach will be better suited to her delicate son’s nature. Little does she know that, soon after Nono’s arrival, the psychiatrist would send him to a bordello.

His theory: sexual frustration fuels mental instability and, thus, sexual release will help bring the patients back to health.

Accompanied by his new-found friend, a man who believes himself a prophet, but is conflicted about his belief in Christ more than in God (as well as his inability to suffer stigmata), Nono goes to the bordello – only to fall in love with the young woman who has been tasked in treating his mental dysfunction. From that point onward, like it or not, her life would become entwined with his.

What I enjoyed at the beginning was the introduction of the characters and setting, which promised that no one and nothing was going to be taken too seriously: Nono wore foil under his turban and had visions of his disapproving mother, a patient pretended to be a doctor, another casually urinated in a potted plant, and the head psychiatrist gets weird twitches when he’s nervous.

Even the uptight, antagonistic  priest ends up being a quirky beast, ripe for derision. Which lead me to wonder about Rebollo’s fundamental disrespect of the Catholic religion throughout the piece: Is it a personal matter, or a cultural one? Was he trying to make a statement, or was he simply taking shots the Church because it makes for a large, tantalizing target? Or is it simply incidental?

Anyway…

The only people who are played straight are the prostitutes, who are flamboyant enough in their get ups to make-up for their lack of colourful personality. The sole exception is the Madam, who embellished her Spanish with touches of French, pushing for her girls to do the same. Personally, I loved that touch because it gave her presence quirk and sophistication one would otherwise not expect.

The problem is that, beyond the introduction, after the visit to the brothel, things started to go downhill at a slow steady pace. I enjoyed the subplot of the two call girls blackmailing a client so that one of them could save her family farm, but then it became too self-consciously zany for my taste, eventually settling for an ’80s Hollywood-style third act that was too déjà vu to be enjoyable.

My overall feeling was that Javier Rebollo was trying perhaps all too hard to make an Almodóvar comedy in the ‘Átame!’ or ‘Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios’ vein. There are worst things than to imitate that man’s genius, but being derivative can also mean losing the zest that made the original work so uniquely compelling. ‘Locos por el sexo’ is certainly crazy and sexy but it’s also lacking in freshness.

Story: 6.0
Acting: 6.5
Production: 7.0

Sexiness: 2.0
Nudity: 1.0
Explicitness: 1.0

Date of viewing: August 12, 2013

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