Female Trouble


Female Trouble

Critics Consensus

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Reviews Counted: 24

liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,361


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4/5

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Movie Info

A riotously funny bad-taste epic from director John Waters, Baltimore's "Prince of Puke," this sick classic tells the depraved life story of obese criminal Dawn Davenport (Divine), from her bad-girl youth as a go-go dancer on Baltimore's infamous Block to her death in the electric chair. Mink Stole is terrific as Dawn's bratty daughter Taffy, conceived following a romp on a junkyard mattress with a fat derelict in soiled underpants (also played by Divine). Mary Vivian Pearce and David Lochary co-star as crazed owners of a beauty-parlor who are convinced that "crime equals beauty," and they take Dawn under their wings, forcing her to mainline liquid eyeliner to enhance her appeal. Edith Massey steals the film as Dawn's obsessive neighbor, Ida, who wants her nephew to be gay (because heterosexuals lead "sick and boring lives") and throws acid in Dawn's face when she marries him. A hilariously appalling film, Female Trouble is just as disgusting and far funnier than Waters' previous Pink Flamingos, if not as notorious.

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as Dawn Davenport/Earl Peterson
David Lochary
as Donald Dasher
Mary Vivian Pearce
as Donna Dasher
Mink Stole
as Taffy Davenport
Edith Massey
as Aunt Ida Nelson
Susan Walsh
as Chicklette
Paul Swift
as Butterfly
George Figgs
as Dribbles
George Hulse
as Teacher
Roland Hertz
as Dawn's Father
Betty Woods
as Dawn's Mother
Hilary Taylor
as Taffy as Child
Channing Wilroy
as Prosecutor
Seymour Avigdor
as Defense Lawyer
Elizabeth Coffey
as Earnestine
Sally Turner
as Divine's double
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Critic Reviews for Female Trouble

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (2)

  • The resulting feast of sex, violence, cruelty, and frivolity mocks sentimental notions of family, work, and love, and turns the egomaniacal furies of pop culture inside out.

    Dec 17, 2018 | Full Review…
  • One of John Waters' best and most notorious movies.

    Apr 18, 2002 | Rating: B-
  • It is this reversal, the realization that the freak is an essential part of a social whole and that beauty falls into contradiction by attempting to be both normative and expressive of individuality, that Female Trouble executes in uproarious fashion.

    Nov 7, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A healthy appreciation of both low and high art gives one a balanced perspective that can enhance the understanding of both aspects... Female Trouble uses this concept of the duality of ugliness and beauty in the characterization of Dawn.

    Nov 6, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Further cementing John Waters' legacy as that rare filmmaker who can weave between exploitative trash and high art.

    Oct 29, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • This delectable trash from John Waters may not be quite as flagrantly tasteless as Pink Flamingos or Multiple Maniacs, but it's still best to lock up your kids and hide your heterosexuals.

    Jul 7, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Female Trouble

While this revolting film is daring, funny and provocative for quite some time, soon it becomes insufferable with a bunch of people shrieking around without end and yelling at each other for much longer than our patience can take (hell, of course, this is John Waters).

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The criminal career of Dawn Davenport is documented in an attempt to prove the thesis "crime equals beauty," in typically gross Waters fashion featuring psuedo-rape, tacky wallpaper, child abuse, absurd makeup, a woman imprisoned in a bird cage, beehive hairdos, mainlining eyeliner, Divine as a go-go dancer, implied paedophilia, puke, murder, and Edith Massey's saggy naked breasts. Badly acted, edited and photographed--by design. Waters holds up a distorted lens to the unique stylistic and moral ugliness of the 1970s and creates a uniquely nightmarish world. Similar, but more focused, less gimmicky and funnier than the more famous PINK FLAMINGOS. Unflinchingly ugly and almost impossible to like, but worth seeing for adventurous cinemaphiles simply beacuse Waters' vision is utterly unique.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

God bless John Waters. He's made some of the best, crudest feel-good movies, and this is one of his crowning achievements. It's amazing how his film, ugly-looking and full of lipstick-smeared freaks, can feel positive and upbeat; while he's mocking everything in sight, he doesn't stand back and protect himself with irony or winks -- he jumps right in there, and that involvement, that energy, is easy to see and feel. It's amazing that he can feature masturbation with needle-nose pliers, beating a child with a chair, a game of "car accident," and Divine literally screwing himself and not have it be off-putting. The very idea that Waters uses a fat transvestite with a beehive hairdo to illustrate his scorn for school shows he's not so interested in subtlety. And Divine is awesome, as always, his prissy, gravely scream -- a freak you want on your side. This is one of Waters' best satirical attempts -- there are digs at hippies and Hare Krishnas, and two scenes in particular are very prophetic: the gay encouraging, and the killing for art. Waters even mocks his own shameless exhibitionism in the testimony of the Dashers

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

For roughly half of its running time this plods along aimlessly but very entertainingly. However, when it finds focus and becomes a poorly developed satire on the celebrity of criminals, the gags dry up and boredom sets in. The problem is, because Dawn Davenport's so-called criminality is barely represented until her final murderous outburst, her claim to fame and notoriety seems very tenuous indeed. Like it or loathe it, "Serial Mom" tackled a similar theme more pointedly and more amusingly.

Stephen M
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

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