Miss Tacuarembó: A Cheeky '80s Festival of Spandex, Sacrilege, and Song
In small-town, über-Catholic Uruguay in 1983, Natalia is an 8-year-old dreamer who believes her TV set was sent to her by Jesus. To the horror of the provincial townsfolk, she and her adorably effeminate playmate Carlos don shoulder-baring leopard print tops, leggings, and bright sweat bands as they rehearse their carefully choreographed dance routines in preparation for the what they consider to be an inevitable big break.
Their grand dreams are sparked by a glamorous star they discover while watching their favorite telenovela. The duo refuses to give up on their pursuit of stardom, even in the face of homophobic adults who forbid Carlos from dancing or playing with girls, and dire warnings from Candida, a witch-like holy roller who, among other offenses, brings a priest into Natalia's home to warn her mother that her child's television role model is a prostitute. (The character is actually a model.)
A flash forward to the 30-year-old Natalia (who often goes by the stage name "Cristal," taken from the lead character in the soap she was obsessed with as a child) reveals that she and Carlos have not made much progress in achieving their Hollywood dreams. Living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the reality show rejects work as dancing ten commandment slabs in Catholicism-themed Cristo Park, "the only theme park approved by the Vatican." Subsequent scenes skip forward and backward from Natalia's frustrating childhood, filled with taunts from more privileged children who laugh at the absurdity of her Hollywood hopes, Natalia's decade-early preparation for her participation in the Miss Tacuarembó beauty pageant, and very aggressive prayers -- more like threats -- to Jesus, requesting that He kill her oppressors.
The "dream theme" has been done before, but never quite this way. The movie spills over with energetic scenes, often jumping from past to present or from straight to ridiculous (the musical number about spinach pie, for example) at a dizzying pace that makes it hard to say whether we're engaged because we're having a good time or because we're simply trying to keep up.