This is homage with a capital H. It takes some time to get used to Biller's stilted acting, but her vision and craft here is amazing. Without a hint of self aware humour or ironic winks, she recreated the vibe of the 70s skin flicks with some subtle gender politics punches underneath it. Also it had hands down the most amazing orgy scene I've ever watched.
Biller is relentless in commiting so exact to the idea in this darkly comic satire of 70s erotica that it's almost so close to the real trash that it becomes it. Everything's there - shit acting, nudity, funk, high fashion - but she translates the ridiculous sex setups, ending them in either rejection or rape. Given the perpetrators, there's a deeper criticism of these films and the men who made them.
I reckon this would be ideal for being played on the big screen at an art school indie disco night. All pouting and posturing with bright colours abounding. Blatant and deliberately hackneyed acting grates a little; by the end I wasn't sure whether it was deliberate, it is unrelenting. Although, it's part of this film's charm. Great sets and costume (when being worn!) and fantastic soundtrack. Maybe 3 stars?
2.5. I can't remember a film I've felt so equivocal about. It slips between satire to gushing homage; given it's subject matter and content, that's pretty problematic. The aesthetics are flawless. But I feel it undoes itself in the end. It's very much the off-spring of Waters, but it lacks his genuine bite and subversion. The result is queasy not because of its weirdness but because of its conservatism.
Although not as accomplished or enjoyable as The Love Witch, Viva is a fine feature debut from Anna Biller (who had previously been learning her craft in a number of short films). It's fun, vibrant, and effectively nails the tone of this kind of film, while at the same time skewering it and making some incisive points.