Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 30th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2007
Approximate running time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen (35mm)
Production Company: Anna Biller Productions
Director/Editor/Writer: Anna Biller
Cinematograper: C. Thomas Lewis
Cast: Anna Biller, Jared Sanford, Bridget Brno, Chad England, Marcus DeAnda, John Klemantaski, Paolo Davanzo, Barry Morse, Cole Chipman, Robbin Ryan, Carole Balkan, Andrea Lain, Johnny Holiday, Veronica Alicino, Sam Bologna, Barry O’Rourke, Germán Legarreta, Mark Wood, Rob Scott
Synopsis: Barbie a bored housewife wanting more from her mundane life seeks adventure after separating with her husband. Barbie on the rebound becomes a call girl and she changes her name to Viva, because it means ‘To Live’. Through a series of misadventures Barbie searches for Mr. Right. Will Barbie find happiness in her new life as Viva or will she return to her former life as a housewife?
Viva is the creation of filmmaker Anna Biller who not only directed the film she was also the films costume designer, production designer, editor, producer, actress and author of Viva’s screenplay. Viva is Anna Biller’s is first feature film as a director having only directed a several short films previously. Viva was made over a two-year period. The film features an impressive amount of sets thirty-four and a cast over one hundred performers. There sheer amount of what production work and size of the cast is almost unheard of in independent cinema.
The plot for Viva is a sex drenched extravaganza that is filled with drama, humorous dialog and plenty of nudity. The style of film is like a cross between the films of Russ Meyer and Radley Metzger (especially Metzger’s set designs and use of colors). At just over two hours in length Viva moves along smoothly with each new scene adding perfectly to the advancement of the story. The sets far exceed the films meager budget. They add tremendously to recreating the 1970’s era that is depicted in the film.
The plot is filled with many delightful characters like the neighbors’ husband who likes to grope Barbie, a gay hairstylist, lesbians, nudists, and Barbie’s money hungry best friend Sheila who seduces an elderly man into buying her a horse. The cast all do a good job in their various roles. Director Anna Biller casts herself in the lead role of Barbie / Viva. Biller performance is very convincing and alluring to look at. Some of Viva’s more memorable moments are its musical numbers and an all-out orgy scene. The moments involving hippies and nudists are some of Viva’s weakest links.
Ultimately Anna Biller’s Viva is a spectacular celebration to all things that were cool in 1970’s exploitation cinema.