Vulgaria – Review

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Vulgaria - Review

Veteran film producer To (Chapman To) addresses a room for of know-it-all students, through flashback we see his struggles to get his most recent film made. Along the way he makes dodgy deals with eccentric crime boss, has sexual encounters with attractive women and donkies and navigates his way through a messy family life.

At first glance Vulgaria seems little more than a smutty, innuendo filled “comedy” about making porn. Happily it’s more than that. Yes there’s plenty of smut – the opening scene revolves around putting the word “pubes” into as many sentences as possible . There are several scenes of open mouthed men staring wide-eyed and attractive looking women and did I mention the sexy hook up with a mule? Unlike the majority of sex comedies made in recent years, especially American movies, Vulgaria brings an air of satire to the discussions of blow jobs with popping candy. Fundamentally Vulgaria is a film about making films. A very exaggerated one that borders on the slapstick and ridiculous but it shows the extremes that it can take for film makers to get there films made. Think a more hyper-colourful version of In the Soup and you’re half way there. At times Chapman To brings to mind Ryo Ishibashi in Audition. A lonely, intelligent man who finds love in a woman must younger. Albeit a much louder version. Rather than appearing as a one dimensional sex pot To shows a whole range of emotions. We first meet him as a authoritative producer address a lecture room. Soon we see him debased and drunk over dinner with Brother Tyrannosaur the crime boss who is helping to bank role his smutty epic.

Ronald Cheng is very watchable as the bizarre Tyrannosaur. It’s definitely the role of film as he gets to shout out absurdities and obscenities with great flare. It’s a role that could easily become annoying but it’s a credit to Cheng that he plays it just the right side of fun. Vulgaria’s also impressively mounted visually. The opening credit sequence flashing by in a kaleidoscope of colour. For a “smutty” comedy it has had a lot of love and craft put into it. It could be said that if the more crass elements were taken out that Vulgaria could be a decent edition to the films about making films genre, but to be fair part of the films charm come from some it’s more lurid jokes. I laughed several times at some pretty childish jokes. The actors know how to deliver a line even through the nuisance of the subtitle (shouldn’t complain really, if I was THAT bothered I would learn the language).

Not to say that Vulgaria is a great film. It’s not. Merely that it delivered much more than I expected. Even at 90 minutes though it still seems a bit too long, suffering from the second act drag. Due to the films comic tone some characters act little more than cyphers for punchlines leaving their characters under developed and ultimately uninteresting. Also at times the films swerves too harshly into drama territory when before I was enjoying cruising along in bawdy comedy control. Somewhere between Altman’s The Player and Kitano’s Getting Any?, Vulgaria is a chucklesome look at the nightmare of filmmaking.


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