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.
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