Anna Biller, Jared Sanford, Bridget Brno, Chad England, Marcus DeAnda, John Klemantaski
The opening narration says it all: “This is a story about a housewife during the sexual revolution. The time is 1972, the place Los Angeles, and the people…ordinary.” After that it takes about 30 seconds for boobs to show up, but this is not porn—it’s an insanely well-replicated ‘70s sexploitation flick.
Abandoned by her husband, Barbi (played by writer/director/natural wonder Anna Biller) is dragged into trouble by a girlfriend who spouts women's lib to coax Barbi into discarding her bra and going out on the town. Barbi quickly becomes a Red Riding Hood in an urban forest full of wolves, discovering much more than she ever wanted to know about nudist camps, the hippie scene, orgies, bisexuality, sadism, drugs, and bohemia.
VIVA gets it genre down pat, but it’s more than just music, hair, flesh, and a pastiche of color that make it so rewarding—the actors are perfect. Dad-cum-boyfriend Jared Sanford‘s look is eerily dead-on, and his laugh will slay you. The girls are curvy and spaced out yet totally in control of their destinies. The dialogue and delivery continually provide payoff as the girls take it off, reveling a simultaneous celebration and criticism of the world Biller has created. Prepare to be wow-wow-wowed.