The Best Movie Critic + review

Watching Hour Preview: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Miranda here today to tell you about this week's offering at the Watching Hour. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert features three drag performers and their eponymous lavender bus in a trek across Australia. For a campy movie about drag, this movie has both substance and style to offer.

It's a road movie. The trio must trek from civilization to Alice Springs through the middle of Australia. Guess what? Oz also has a homophobic, backwoods middle of the country that doesn't take kindly to an invasion of drag queens. Naturally, Priscilla breaks down in the middle of nowhere leaving the girls to set up camp and flag a ride. At one point, skin-crawling hatespeech gets painted on poor Priscilla. Guy Pearce's character Adam narrowly avoids violence in another miserable little town on the way.It's a story of identity, of love and family. Tick, played by the inimitable Hugo Weaving, must reconcile his profession as drag performer Mitzi del Bra, his shaky identity as a gay man and his ex-wife and son in Alice Springs. In the character's own words to explain his orientation, he's left to conclude "I don't fuckin' know." On the road, a relationship blooms between Bob, the handyman they liberate from an awful wife and Bernadette, the transwoman played by Terence Stamp. It's one of the sweetest relationship beginnings I've ever seen on screen.
It's a buddy flick. Not everything is always sequins and roses and peaches and cream between them. As much as the team bickers and bitches, they stick together throughout. It's a music movie. In a completely adorable scene, the performers show off for a local Aboriginal tribe..The most fabulously flamboyant soundtrack you've ever heard keeps these ladies and gentlemen moving on their voyage. ABBA, Village People, Gloria Gaynor - it's all there. Their performances are the most fun to watch. Keep your eyes out for a collared lizard-inspired ensemble. Somehow, between the requisite queeny, bitchy dialogue and the music choices, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert manages to avoid coming off as too silly. The actors pull off great performances by using their rich characters as more than stereotypes. This is especially true in the case of Bernadette as a transwoman in a gay man's world. She doesn't just have a character with a fancy drag nom des plumes . She's chosen a name for good. Changing her gender wasn't enough - now she's looking for a change of scenery and a more exciting life.

This is a great pick for The Watching Hour. It will be incredible to watch the infamous shot of fabric and feathers blooming from Felicia from atop Priscilla as she zips down the highway. This movie takes itself just seriously enough to retain drama, with just enough camp to keep it silly. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is not just for the LBGTQ community. It's for everyone who loves to see underdogs triumph, families created and recreated and true love begin.

The Watching Hour is a weekly film series at the Denver Film Center, highlighting new and old cult, genre, or otherwise bizarro movies. Quite simply, The Watching Hour is usually the best thing to do in Denver on a Friday or Saturday night. From Giallo to schlock, Blaxploitation to Aussiesploitation, zombies to martial arts to who-knows-what, and everywhere in between. This is good ol’ rock and roll cinema spectacle. Not to be missed. (See the schedule, buy tickets, get directions, etc. here.)

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Watching Hour Preview: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert + review