Law of Desire (1987)
"La ley del deseo" (original title)

NC-17  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Thriller  |  5 March 1987 (Argentina)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 7,294 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 33 critic

A film makers sexual disorientation jepordizes his latest project.


(as Pedro Almodovar)


(screenplay), (story)
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10 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eusebio Poncela ...
Juan Bermúdez
Fernando Guillén ...
Inspector de policía
Ada, niña
Nacho Martínez ...
Doctor Martín
Bibiana Fernández ...
Ada - madre (as Bibí Andersen)
Helga Liné ...
Madre de Antonio
Germán Cobos ...
El Cura
Policía, chico
Marta Fernández Muro ...
Una Groupi
Lupe Barrado ...
Alfonso Vallejo ...
Maruchi León ...
Hermana de Juan


Pablo and Tina have complicated sexual lives. Pablo writes and directs plays and films; he's gay and deeply in love with Juan, a young man who won't reply to Pablo's affection or letters. Pablo's sibling Tina is a transsexual, angry at men, raising Ada, and trying to make it as an actress. Pablo takes up with Antonio, a youth who becomes jealous of Pablo's love for Juan. Antonio seeks out Juan, and violence leads to Pablo's grief and a temporary loss of memory. When memory returns, he learns that Antonio has taken up with Tina. In horror, he hurries to Tina's rescue and must face Antonio and his desire. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for a scene of explicit sexual content | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 March 1987 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

A Lei do Desejo  »

Box Office


ESP 240,365,945 (Spain)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Police inspector (Fernando Guillén) and his assistant (Fernando Guillén Cuervo) are father and son both in movie and in real life. See more »


Pablo Quintero: It's not your fault if you don't love me and its not my fault if I love you.
See more »


Referenced in Paternity Leave (2015) See more »


Movement II
from "Movements for piano and orchestra" (uncredited)
Composed by Igor Stravinsky
See more »

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User Reviews

Almodovar's masterpiece, and most personal work
2 August 1999 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

THE LAW OF DESIRE opened the 1987 Miami Int'l Film Festival. Almodovar and Carmen Maura had already broken through to the American market at this event with WHAT HAVE I DONE TO... a few years earlier. So it was surprising to find them pacing nervously up and down the lobby of the C.Grove Playhouse at THE LAW's North American premiere. They were also in and out of its rest rooms, as the sold out audience roared in laughter and applauded the film, and I was making an early dash to the post-premiere party at the Viscaya Palace. They were acting just like the neurotic characters they bring to life in this and their other films. They were still insecure and frustrated that their huge popularity and celebrity status in Europe was reduced to a recent, almost cult, following in the U.S. They needn't have worried. The film confirmed both of these artists along with Antonio Banderas as stars among North American art movie lovers. (This achievement would be crowned the following year with the triumph of their next collaboration: the Oscar-nominated WOMEN ON THE VERGE...) But THE LAW OF DESIRE will be remembered as Almodovar's self-confessed most personal work, and the masterpiece of his earlier career. This film is pure Almodovar, before he toned down to more mainstream fare. LAW... resumes the Almodovarian style, in all its excesses. It features most of his muses, beyond Maura and Banderas: Rossy dePalma, Bibi Anderssen, Eusebio Poncela, and the rest. His style as a writer/director of women goes over the top here, as does his predilection with telephones, the police, drug use (cocaine in particular), the media, dysfunctional families, sexual ambiguity, the Catholic Church, and the city of Madrid. Almodovar fans will note that all the above themes permeate his work. But nowhere are they so well linked and exposed as in this landmark film.

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