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By Eric Campos | July 5, 2002

It’s a 90 minute Spanish soap opera with tattoos, piercings and full frontal nudity. That may sound cool to some, but trust me, it’s not as cool as you may think.
Okay, I’m not entirely certain as to what exactly was going on in this film, but let me give this a shot anyways. Lovers Simona and Francis go to Barcelona to await the release of Francis’s friend, Mariel, from prison. While they wait, they decide to take over his bar, Tatawo, which doubles as a tattoo and piercing parolor. This is a perfect fit as both Simona and Francis are tattooed all over. But, for some reason that evaded me, Francis gets spooked almost as soon as they get there and decides to split on Simona, who stays behind and tends to the bar herself. Shortly after this happens, Mariel is released from prison all thanks to a “favor” his wife paid the town’s biggest pimp. But now that he’s out, does Mariel want to have anything to do with his wife? Nope. He sees Simona giving one of her nudie shows in the window of Tatawo and he decides that he wants her as well as his bar back. But, Simona is still in love with Francis and she refuses Mariel’s charms. Thus begins a push and pull match that doesn’t let up until Mariel devises a plan to rip someone off in order to pay for Simona to have surgery to remove the tattoos that Francis had personally put all over her body. This way, his mark will no longer be upon her and she will be able to accept Mariel’s love…or something like that. Boy, love is stupid!
I think I got that right. That’s what appeared to be happening. But then I had to sift through a cast of supporting characters who I could barely get a handle on what they were doing there, a lot of people bitching and moaning at each other and not the greatest subtitles in the world. For the most part you got what the characters were saying (although this didn’t make the film easier to grasp), but there’s a lot of bad English to wade through and an occasional typo that actually gave birth to one of the funniest subtitle faux pas I’ve ever seen. Someone screams “Stop talking s**t”, but what’s written in the subtitles is “Stop taking s**t.” I’m sorry, I just find that extremely funny.
“Tattoo Bar” is clearly an acquired taste. I’m sure there’s somebody out there that can make more sense out of this exercise in super drama than I can…perhaps people that watch Spanish soaps. I just found it really difficult to follow – not completely believing the motivations of certain characters, nor how some characters would just completely vanish, seemingly without a trace. This film made my head hurt.

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