Archive for March 10th, 2004

Film Review: John Waters’ Female Trouble

Mar 10, 2004 in Film

On Monday night, the Independent Film Channel showed John Waters’ Female Trouble (1975), the follow-up to his groundbreaking 1972 cult film Pink Flamingos. Female Trouble has every bit of that over-the-top trashiness, gross-out humor and dark comedy that made Pink Flamingos such a cult hit, plus a more developed plot.

Those of you familiar with Waters’ more popular works, such as the Broadway-adapted Hairspray, Cry Baby or the art house favorite Pecker, may find John Waters’ earlier films to be a bit of a shock (or a treat, depending on how your tastes run). Waters made his reputation on producing trashy, tasteless, low-budget camp films with “no socially redeeming value” whatsoever. His early troupe of actors was led by an obese transvestite named “Divine”, whose primary contribution to cinema was eating dog shit at the end of Pink Flamingos.

While watching Waters’ earlier films, one has to remember the director’s stated purpose in making such films: to “smash every middle-class value that his uptight Baltimore brethren held dear.”

Female Trouble is a fine example of the excesses of Waters’ early work; in fact, it is probably the most entertaining of his earlier films. Divine plays Dawn Davenport, a self-centered, bratty teenager who grows up to become a trashy two-bit thief. She is recruited by the Dashers, a pair of beauty salon owners who want to use Davenport in a photographic experiment equating crime with beauty (”Crime enhances one’s beauty. The more heinous the crime gets, the more ravishing one becomes”). The resulting crime spree ends in Davenport’s night club debut, in which she attempts to execute members of the audience in a bid for notoriety. (”Who wants to die for art?”)

In one of the film’s subplots, Davenport’s bratty daughter Taffy decides to becomes a Hare Krishna (which I found funny because I was one once.)

IFC will be showing Female Trouble again on Thursday, Apr 1 @ 2:30 AM. The original movie trailer is available here.

Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble are also available together on a two-disc DVD set at Amazon.