Mostly filmed the year Smith's orgy-comedy Flaming Creatures became a famous obscenity case, Normal Love is a kind of lyrical sequel, replacing the earlier film's bleached-out black and white with lush color and its urban claustrophobia with rural locales outside New York City. The cast of "creatures," including Mario Montez and Tiny Tim, perform in a series of disjointed sequences that oscillate between trancelike impersonation and utterly reflexive self-parody: a mermaid in a tub, for example, is larger than life yet totally ridiculous, her tail phonier than the worst B-movie costume. Smith's gender visions, more radical than mainstream concepts of drag, conflate dress-up with striptease, ludicrous acting with a sure belief that one can become one's costume. His visual style is a dense and demented re-creation of von Sternberg, the smallest fashion accessory a radiant surface as camera and character--and character and costume--move in a coordinated ballet at once graceful and spastic. It is the movie to cherish for the generations to come.
11 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?