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Polyester

Where to Watch Polyester

R
1981

Polyester is a 1981 American dark comedy film directed by the iconic John Waters. Known for his flamboyant and audacious filmmaking style, Waters gives life to a farcical tale woven with his signature blend of absurd humor, biting satire, and unabashed quirkiness. The dialogues are sharp, the performances are eccentric, and the whole narrative bursts with Waters's characteristic critique of traditional American society.

The film stars Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as Divine, the iconic drag queen who was a regular in Waters's films. Divine plays Francine Fishpaw, a despairing suburban housewife yearning for some sort of breakthrough from her daily miseries, while living in Baltimore, Maryland, a favorite location in many of Waters’s works.

Francine leads a less than perfect life. Her husband, Elmer, is the owner of an adult theater, and, unbeknownst to Francine, is having an affair. Elmer is hardly a dream husband: he is obnoxious, rude and epitomizes insensitivity. Their two children consist of a rebellious delinquent son and a promiscuous daughter. Francine's only source of comfort seems to be her best friend, Cuddles, portrayed by Edith Massey. Massey, another frequent collaborator of Waters, gives a stirring performance, adding another demented layer of comedy in Polyester.

When heartthrob Todd Tomorrow, played by the charismatic Tab Hunter, enters the scene, he appears as a shimmering beacon of hope in Francine's otherwise chaotic life. With his suave charm and debonair aura, he seems to be the ideal escape Francine has been longing for, but life, as Francine knows all too well, is seldom as straightforward as it appears.

Polyester dives headfirst into a world of soap-opera style sensationalism, riddled with exaggerated characters and over-the-top plotlines. It offers a twisted, satirical take on the melodramas of the 1950s and the American Dream. With its wacky moments and relentless irreverence, the film is a glorious bouquet of societal satire and lavish eccentricity.

One of the defining highlights of Polyester is its use of 'Odorama.' Waters takes the cinematic experience a notch higher by introducing a scratch-and-sniff card concept. With a total of ten different odors that viewers could sniff at strategic points in the film, it added a new multisensory dimension to the watching experience. This innovative concept served as a groundbreaking and memorable marketing gimmick for the movie.

The film, though a far cry from conventional Hollywood comedy-dramas, offers an unfiltered commentary on middle class suburbia, religion, sexual mores, abortion, alcoholism, foot fetishism, school dropout rates, and divorce. The underlying depth beneath its ostentatious surface is reflective of Waters’s masterful storytelling. Over time, Polyester, like many of John Waters's films, has gained a cult following.

The casting in the film contributes magnificently to the entertainment quotient of the movie. Divine shines as the anguished housewife, exuding charm and vulnerability in a role that was quite the departure from her previous outrageous characters in Waters' earlier films. Tab Hunter as Todd Tomorrow is heart-warmingly convincing, flawlessly portraying the polite suitor with concealed intentions.

Polyester brilliantly represents Waters's unique vision, flare for outrageous humor, and his ability to magnify the ridiculous aspects of traditional American living with a mix of slapstick comedy, dark humor and a storyline that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats. This film is a must-watch for fans of Waters’s work, as well as those with a taste for unorthodox cinema that dares to be different.

As per most of Waters’s filmmaking, Polyester is not for the faint-hearted or those yearning for conventional, clichéd narrative styles. But if you're looking for a film that breaks boundaries and transcends norms while serving dose after dose of relentless, dark comedy, Polyester is a ride that promises both audacity and entertainment in equal measure.

Polyester is a Comedy, Drama, Crime movie released in 1981. It has a runtime of 86 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.0. It also holds a MetaScore of 72.

How to Watch Polyester

Where can I stream Polyester movie online? Polyester is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Polyester for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.0/10
72/100
Director
John Waters
Stars
Divine, Tab Hunter, David Samson, Edith Massey, Mink Stole
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