Guilty Pleasure

The French have their own ideas about space adventures, and they are always Postmodern cool. I have to admit that this movie, The Fifth Element, is one of my guilty pleasures. A trip to Italy in the 90s was rife with TV advertising and kiosk posters for Il Quinto Elemento con Bruce Willis – heavy on the Italian accent. This small pop culture moment mixed up with a cheap pensione in Roma has burrowed into my head like a tic on a fat dog. I really enjoy the clever way the script weaves together the 3 subplots into a continuous collage of question and answer. One character in a subplot will ask a question and the answer comes from another character in another – it’s smart movie editing, and for something as silly as a space adventure done up as an old fashioned Euro-Western, it is fun high POMO exuberance. Sandwiched into the plot is a small pivotal character played by the out-of-control and OTT Chris Tucker. Ruby Rhod steals the entire movie! One of my favorite moments is when he takes the stairs into the simulacrum of “… the most beautiful concert hall of all the universe! A perfect replica of the old opera house! …BUT WHO CARES!” For Ruby, everything is background – people, places, and especially things. His personality keeps rising into view, the center of the universe, and we are all satellites caught in his gravity. From the wig with the phallic cone all the way to the ridiculously pointy shoes – Ruby is a character born of POMO exuberance. I guess it just goes to show that not everything Mannerist is bad….

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