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CRY-BABY

USA, 1990 (MIFF 1990)

Director: John Waters

John Waters' latest celebration of pop cultural timespin hurls us joyously back into mid-fifties small-town Americana. Baltimore, 1954, to be precise. America is in the process of discovering rock'n'roll, black leather jackets, pompadours, pegged jeans, flashy cars, skintight sweaters over bullet bras, and so on.

It's against this kitschily crazed milieu that John Waters stages a rockabilly Romeo and Juliet story - where Wade "Cry Baby" Walker (Johnny Depp), a handsome teen hep cat falls for Alison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane), a very straight and very innocent rich girl.

Alison's a Square, with all the properly right angles, while Wade's definitely a gang-warring Drape from the wild and wrong side of the tracks. Lifestyle ethics and highly coded fashion colours clash in a marvellous, torrid, pulsatingly musical romance. Amidst the kaleidoscope of comic-strip bright characters are Ricki Lake (star of Waters' Hairspray) as hefty gang girl Pepper; rock legend Iggy Pop as Belvedere, keeper of the Skull House; Waters regular Mink Stole, as Gerti Malnorowski; Andy Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro as Reverend (!) Hackett. The fusion of these way-off-centre "underground" talents with more mainstream favourites like Troy Donahue, David Nelson (Ozzie's eldest son), Polly Bergen and an unclassifiable "new" star, Patty Hearst, ail reinforce the movie's theme of daring to be different, to transgress, to cross over all barriers - which, of course, is exactly what Waters, (creator and auteur of the cult series of Divine movies), has accomplished himself, in an irresistibly enjoyable and affectionate pastiche which is being hailed by Bill Cosford in the Miami Herald as "the best movie musical since Cabaret. Seriously!" Your bound to get wet over Cry-Baby.

"Cry-Baby has true madness; it's like an epic teen opera by some mutant pop Berlioz."
- Jack Kroll, Newsweek

- (PKe)

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