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The Independent Critic

Simone Spoladore, Igor Cotrim, Sergio Bezerra, Maite Proenca, Buza Ferraz, Jose Wilker, Duse Nacarati
Marcelo Laffitte
NR (Equiv. to "R")
105 Mins.
Breaking Glass Pictures
The Making of Elvis & Madona; Deleted Scenes

 "Elvis & Madona" a Stylish and Unique Rom-Com 
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Elvis (Simone Spoladore) is the black sheep of her wealthy but dysfunctional family, a working class photographer who also happens to be a lesbian.

Madona (Igor Cotrim) is a transvestite hairdresser with more than a few skeletons in her closet and an abusive lover who goes by the not quite affectionate name of Tripod Joe (Sergio Bezerra).

When Elvis picks up a job delivering pizzas on her motorcycle. Her first client is, of course, Madona. When Elvis arrives, however, she discovers that Madona has been beaten up and robbed of her life savings by Joe. Despite seemingly being quite different, the two "click" in that way that confirms that opposites attract even when they aren't really that opposite.

Written and directed by Marcelo Laffitte, Elvis & Madona is a stylish, sparkling and surprisingly sweet film that has played at over 50 film festivals and now been picked up by QC Cinema, the LGBT arm of Breaking Glass Pictures, for a home video release on October 30th, 2012. The film has also received several awards including Best Screenplay at Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival and Best Actress for Spoladore from Sao Paolo's Association of Art Critic Awards.

While the film will undeniably not be of the taste for everyone, those who can appreciate richly developed and deeply felt alternative cinema should have no problem embracing this funny and endearing and heartfelt love story.

It helps, of course, to have strong performances and Elvis & Madona has a couple of fine performances from the lovely and talented Spoladore along with an absolutely marvelous Igor Cotrim.

Spoladore likely has the more emotionally grounded performance to offer here, with her performance as Elvis exuding both a sassiness and a sympathy. Even as the story becomes more outlandish, there's such an emotional depth to Spoladore's performance that you can't help but be hypnotized by her honesty and vulnerability.

Cotrim, on the other hand, has the more showy part in more ways than one. Cotrim's Madona bears more than a slight resemblance to a certain Hedwig, and much like that iconic stage and film character Cotrim's Madona remains remarkably authentic and never turns into a caricature. It's difficult, if not impossible, to not ache for Cotrim's Madona while her scenes towards film's end reveal the remarkable humanity underneath the make-up.

The two of them together are, quite simply, a beautiful thing to behold.

While he's tasked with being primarily a frightening thug, Sergio Bezerra's accomplishment is in never taking his character over the top in a film that is so stylish and deeply felt that to have done so would have been severely disruptive to the flow of the film.

On more than one occasion, I found myself contemplating Elvis & Madona as a rather delightful stage production given its colorful sets and broadly yet concisely developed characters. Victor Biglione's original music is an absolute delight, while Ulrich Burtin's camera work successfully captures both the intimacy that grows between Elvis and Madona while also celebrating Madona's larger than life presence. Rafael Targat has created a wondrous production design for the film, ranging from apartment settings to a simply awesome pizza parlor and stage scenes that radiate attitude and pizzazz.

So often when a film such as this one is created, it comes off as funny at the expense of its characters. Rather refreshingly, Elvis & Madona is funny and heartfelt because all of its characters show and honestly and without hesitant to live out exactly "as is," at least until "as is" doesn't work for them anymore.

When the film played at Tribeca this past year, it was deemed to be a bit groundbreaking in terms of its rom-com stylings. Yet, what really makes the film work is precisely that it's not ground-breaking. Instead, it's simply a rom-com involving two people you might not suspect could ever fall in love but do. Their relationship is treated with honesty, dignity and humor and is brought beautifully to life by this cast. Even when the film becomes darker, it does so with the integrity of its characters intact.

Fans of quality LGBT cinema will enjoy the uniqueness and spirit of Elvis & Madona, a Brazilian film in Portuguese with English subtitles. For more information, be sure to visit the Breaking Glass Pictures website linked to in the credits.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic