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Polyester (1981)
Year, country:
John Waters
Divine Tab Hunter Edith Massey
1h 26m

"Polyester" (1981), directed by John Waters, is a satirical comedy film that embraces the director's signature style of irreverent humor, subversion of traditional cinema norms, and a celebration of the bizarre and taboo. Starring Divine, Tab Hunter, and Edith Massey, the film is a unique blend of camp, social commentary, and outrageousness.

The story revolves around Francine Fishpaw (Divine), a suburban housewife whose life appears perfect on the surface but is, in reality, filled with dysfunction and absurdity. As her world unravels, Francine encounters a series of eccentric characters, including her philandering husband Elmer (David Samson), her delinquent children, and her peculiar neighbors.

"Polyester" is notable for its use of Odorama, a gimmick where audiences were given scratch-and-sniff cards to enhance the olfactory experience during specific scenes. This cheeky addition aligns with Waters' penchant for pushing boundaries and challenging conventional cinema norms.

The film satirizes and exaggerates elements of suburban life, consumer culture, and societal expectations. Divine's performance as Francine Fishpaw is a tour de force, capturing both the comedic and tragic aspects of the character. Tab Hunter plays Todd Tomorrow, a charming foot fetishist and love interest to Divine's character, adding to the film's quirky dynamics.

John Waters' direction infuses the film with his distinctive style, known as "trash cinema" or "camp," characterized by its embrace of the unconventional, taboo, and kitschy. "Polyester" retains Waters' irreverent spirit while also offering a more accessible narrative compared to some of his earlier works.

The film's cinematography by David Insley reflects the vibrant and exaggerated aesthetics of Waters' vision. The use of bright colors and deliberate campiness contributes to the film's overall tone, creating a visually distinctive experience.

"Polyester" both mocks and celebrates the absurdity of suburban life, challenging societal norms with a mix of humor and subversion. Waters' willingness to tackle taboo subjects and explore the unconventional makes "Polyester" a cult classic that appeals to audiences seeking a unique and unapologetically bold cinematic experience.

While not a mainstream blockbuster, "Polyester" has earned its place in film history as a representation of John Waters' distinct voice and his ability to create films that defy expectations. The film stands as a testament to the director's commitment to pushing the boundaries of cinema and challenging audiences to embrace the unconventional.