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Reviews & Ratings for
Law of Desire More at IMDbPro »La ley del deseo (original title)

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36 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Almodovar's masterpiece, and most personal work

Author: Gonzalo Melendez (gonz30) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2 August 1999

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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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

It's a great film.

Author: mail-873 from Boston, Massachusetts
12 June 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You shouldn't believe everything you read on video boxes. It is not a "riotous comedy," it's a deeply moving meditation on desire, from physical desire to the highest kinds of love. All of the characters are searching for it, and one of the questions raised by the movie is "What is it worth?" The final scene, in which Antonio and Pablo are in the apartment, just before Antonio kills himself, is the the linchpin of the movie. Love is serious, it is not a game, and love is worth dying for. That is why Pablo throws the typewriter out the window--everything he has written hasn't been worth the paper it is written on because it assumes that love is merely a toy. In the final scene, when Pablo takes up the dead Antonio in his arms and weeps, the visual image is a lamentation, like the Renaissance paintings of Mary holding Christ in her arms after he has been brought down from the cross. Of course it is funny too in places, but funny in a way that elaborates on and deepens the main theme of the movie, "What is love worth." What Antonio teaches Pablo is that love is worth everything. What you may have been confused by is the tone of the movie, which is operatic. This is not about an investigation of individual character. Like much opera, it investigates a deeply felt--and confusing--human emotion. It is one of the great gay movies, perhaps the greatest one.

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29 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Excellent movie

Author: preppy-3 from United States
10 March 2000

One of director Almodovars early films--and one of his best. A gay writer is basically stalked by a psychopath. The films manages to weave together comedy, drama and tragedy and make them all work! Also it manages to work in fairly explicit gay sex scenes and male nudity without it being exploitative--it just fits the storyline and characters. The movie takes a serious misstep about halfway through, throwing in a murder, but manages to regain its footing. The acting is pretty good--not great. Antonio Banderas is so-so as the psycho. I give him credit for engaging in gay sex scenes with no hesitation (I'd love to know what he thinks about this movie now!). The best thing about the movie is the direction--even when the story bogs down in spots, there's always something to look at on screen. Almodovar knows how to make films look beautiful and he, somehow, manages to have the settings fit the tone of the scene. How many directors can you say that about. An excellent film--well worth seeing. But if you're offended by explicit gay subject matter, stay away.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A landmark in the New Queer Cinema

Author: Martin Bradley ( from Derry, Ireland
17 April 2007

In what has now customarily become known as the New Queer Cinema, Almodovar's "Law of Desire" must be seen as a landmark film. Opening with a naked man masturbating and being guided through the motions by the disembodied voice of 'the director', this turns out to be something of a red-herring, though it does establish that the film's central character is a director, (Almodovar?), and that he is gay. What follows is a teasing Hitchcockain menage-a-trois murder yarn, (not mystery), in which the homosexuality of the protagonists is very much to the fore and is hardly seen as 'an issue', (a major breakthrough in what was a mainstream Spanish movie of its day). Indeed "Law of Desire" was the film which really established Almodovar internationally and while gay-themed movies were finally making their mark in 1987 few were quite as explicitly erotic or as pleasurably in-your-face as this.

Its cast was largely made up of what only be described as players from Almodovar's stock company and in a fine cast Antonio Banderas and Carmen Maura are the stand-outs; he as a pathologically disturbed 'fan' whose obsession with Eusebio Puncela's director leads to murder and she as the director's transsexual 'sister', a deliriously giddy performance and yet played mostly 'straight' by Maura.

If not quite as deep as Almodovar's later movies there is nevertheless much to enjoy here, (and although dealing with tragic issues Almodovar teases out the black comedy for all its worth). Now, of course, a great deal of the fun is in slotting the film into the Almodovar canon and seeing exactly where it fits in relation to the movies that followed it.

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15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A truly amazing movie!

Author: elgc45 from United States
3 December 2005

This is one of my favorite Almodovar movies. I was amazed at the level of acting and the quality of the script. As always full of sex and full of demonization towards the Catholic Church and its "celibate" priests. Pedro Almodovar usually tells the untold story of the church in Spain in a way that's always cynical and objective. The relationships of love between two men are what most of his most celebrated films are about. Love, sex, murder, and all of the sins of the flesh are also present in this film. In conclusion, this film possesses all of the qualities of a great Almodovar movie. LA LEY DEL DESEO is a Truly Amazing Movie. 10 Stars!!!

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Fatal Attraction without the bunny.

Author: lastliberal from United States
20 February 2008

You will find all the familiar Almodovar devices here: telephones, drug use (cocaine in particular), dysfunctional families, sexual ambiguity, pedophile priests, and hospitals. These themes permeate his work, but they are woven intricately throughout this film.

Pablo (Eusebio Poncela) is a writer/director of fantastic movies. He gets into the snares of an obsessive (Antonio Banderas in a great performance) who has a fatal attraction and will kill for his love. At the same time, he has to deal with his transvestite sister played by Carmen Maura (Volver, Women on the Verge, Matador) in another magnificent role.

It is a melodrama about love as that is the overriding need for Banderas and for Maura, who has given up on men since her father left her. It is also about family. Of course, there is a crossing of genres as there is some comedy, but that is minor.

Another magnificent Almodovar film.

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17 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

The ultimate in high camp

Author: manxman-1 from bahamas
9 July 2005

Outrageous, extremely enjoyable, over-the-top melodrama about a straight psychopath (Antonio Banderas) prepared to go gay to further his career with a homosexual film director (Eusebio Poncela). A feast of familiar faces for anyone familiar with Almodovar's career. Carmen Maura as the director's transsexual sister, happily dispensing cocaine to hospital patients, knocking out policemen and engaging in the in-scene to end all in-scenes with the beautiful Bibiana Fernandez, the mother of her adopted daughter, when anyone in the know would recognize Fernandez as Spain's most famous transsexual in real life! About halfway through, Almodovar's loopiness slips into high gear and the laughs come thick and fast. Just don't expect too much believability towards the end. Interesting to see so many faces from Almodovar's pitch-black comedy Matador, made the previous year and in this viewer's opinion far superior. Still, Law of Desire is too way over the top not to be enjoyable. Just don't throw your popcorn at the screen.

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:


Author: duckgirlie
2 July 2004

I saw this film after having seen Bad Education, and there are many plot lines similar in both. I loved this film, not only am I a huge fan of Almodóvar, but in this film, the easy and simple beauty of the shots stood out. The acting was good, not amazing but good, particularly from Pablo and Tina. As well as directing beautifully, Almodóvar knows how to infuse a scene with sex, even if no sex is actually taking place-for example, when Antonio lights his cigarette of Pablo's. The film does become melodramatic towards the end, but I don't see this as a failing, melodrama, if done well, as it is here, need not be ridiculous

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Early Pedro Almodovar movie with a very good cast as Antonio Banderas and Carmen Maura

Author: ma-cortes from Santander Spain
23 November 2015

Offbeat and sensitive melodrama/Thriller about extreme passions , ¨Amor Fou¨ and a killer on lam , being well acted and directed . Good film including interesting drama , colorful cinematography , sensitive score and fine acting by all-Spanish-star-cast . Almodovar successful thriller/drama , including his ordinary rare characters , twisted situations and eccentric events dealing with a writer/director gay and the men who love him , this sexual disorientation jeopardizes his latest project . As it concerns about a couple of siblings , Pablo and Tina , both of whom have complicated sexual existences . Pablo is homosexual and deeply in love with Juan (Micky Molina) , a young man who won't reply to Pablo's affection . Pablo's brother Tina (Carmen Maura) is a transsexual , angry at men , raising Ada (Manuela Velasco) , and attempting to make it as a player . Pablo takes up with Antonio (Antonio Banderas) , Antonio seeks out Juan , and violence leads to Pablo's grief . Then , it takes place a car crash and Pablo temporarily loss of memory . When memory returns , he learns a dark secret . In horror , Pablo takes on a terrible and disgusting finale .

Enjoyable film full of feeling , rare characters plenty of desire and love , haunting mood-pieces , emotive as well as outrageous images , and sense of style . The picture deals with off-the-wall/intense drama , family absurdities , superb scenes , a haunting meditation on love with dysfunctional roles and many other things . Here deals with existences of the three peculiar roles : a filmmaker , his angry lover and a transsexual whose fates will flow in all directions , past , present and future , dragging all of them towards an unsuspected finale . This strange as well as excessive melodrama/triller/intrigue movie in Douglas Sirk style could only have been made by Almodovar . The picture is acceptable but turns out to be inferior to his subsequent entries such as or ¨Live flesh¨ , ¨The flower of my secret¨ , ¨High heels¨ , ¨Atame¨ , ¨All about my mother¨, ¨Talk to her¨ , all of them strong and outlandish dramas . The result is undiluted scabrous flick , filled with crazy strings of plots and sharp images with thrilling situations . As usual , in the most from Almodóvar films , he uses Latin-American songs in his movies movies , from Rancheras , Boleros to tangos through Mexican and Cuban boleros , Pedro has a great musical taste . Unforgettable scenes when there takes place a peculiar shower , this iconic hose scene was shot twice , the first one wasn't useful because the pressure was so big that Carmen Maura fell down . The second time the scene was shot perfectly, but Maura had to dub herself because of the water noise . The best images happen on the ending of the movie when Tina and Ada are kidnapped and Pablo hurries to Tina's rescue and must face a murderer on loose . Nice actors give awesome interpretations as Eusebio Poncela playing a stressed writer unsettled by a triangular love story , and Antonio Banderas as a youth who becomes jealous of Pablo's love for Juan , the latter well performed by Miguel Molina . I liked everyone in the excellent cast , and the male and female actors , especially Carmen Maura , were all very attractive . Furthermore , a notorious support cast such as Helga Line , Nacho Martínez , Germán Cobos , Bibiana Fernández and other delightfully played roles . And Fernando Guillén as Police inspector and his assistant played by Fernando Guillén Cuervo are father and son both in movie and in real life . In addition , a lot of cameos with frequent Pedro Almodóvar actors appear briefly such as Rossy De Palma , Marta Fernández Muro and Victoria Abril . As usual in most of Pedro's movies , there is a small role for Agustín Almodóvar, his brother and producer of the film who plays a lawyer and the same Pedro Almodóvar as a shopkeeper . Rousing musical score, including some marvelous songs , these are the followings : ¨No Me Quitte Pas" written by Jacques Brel , performed by Maysa Matarazzo , Los Panchos : "Lo Dudo" ('I doubt it') , 'If you go away' with the sweet voice of Emiliana Torrini , "Guardo Che Luna" composed by G. Malgoni . Pedro chooses this kind of songs , Rancheras , Boleros, tangos , etc. have something in common : They are about tragedies , lost love , betrayal , desire , lust , hate and passion . Colorful and luxurious cinematography by Angel Fernandez who photographed Almodóvar's first films as ¨Dark Habits¨ , ¨What Have I Done to Deserve This?" and ¨Matador¨.

This one-of-a-kind picture was realized in his particular style by Pedro Almodovar ; he often uses symbolism and metaphorical techniques to portray circular story lines though here he directs a special melodrama , including his ordinary touches . Almodovar directs throughout with splendid zip and he usually portrays strong female characters and transsexuals and along his career getting some important international prizes . His first feature film, Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980), was made in 16 mm and blown-up to 35 mm for public release . In 1987, he and his brother Agustín Almodóvar established their own production company : El Deseo, S. A. The "Almodóvar phenomenon" has reached all over the world , making his films very popular in many countries . Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar who made successes such as Labyrinth of passions , Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown , Bad education , Broken embraces , The Skin I Live In , Volver and many others . The latest from acclaimed Spanish director , Pedro Almodovar's I'm So Excited , a mediocre comedy.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Law of Desire

Author: lasttimeisaw from China
6 May 2013

It could be a perfect double bill with Almodovar's own BAD EDUCATION (2004, 8/10), LAW OF DESIRE is his seventh feature film and has a plucky vein of a forthright attitude towards homosexuality and challenges an unconventional yarn of a besotted maniac-suitor's (Banderas) incorrigible fixation of our protagonist, a successful film director Pablo (Poncela), that kind of creepy yet deeply-devoting ardor could instantaneously scare away the recipient and devour one's own, but not like other similar-themed films tackles on a thriller angle, this film has (unexpectedly) romanticized the purified affection as a rarefied empathy, and succumbs to its self-immolated culmination out of the left field.

Meanwhile, the film also painstakingly limns the life of Pablo's sister Tina (Maura), a ham actress, whose outré past will be divulged later in the film to a shocking value with comical casualness thanks to an amnesiac twist, and she carries a paralleled weight which includes a maternal bond with her niece Ada (Velasco).

From what one may expect from Almodovar, the film is less tawdry or garish with its color element, still an over-par indulgence though, LAW OF DESIRE is cluttered with saccharine love letters, explicit homo-erotic scenes, tackling with touchy issues like possessiveness, promiscuity, incest, transsexual, drug abuse and a murder case, with innuendos about priesthood sex scandal, also interpolating a monologue play about a distressed woman named Laura P (starts and ends with a melancholic delivery of "NE ME QUITTE PAS"). It is a fairly self-boosting piece of work, Almodovar always know how to infuse comedic occurrence into his well-drafted plot, even against a harrowing backbone.

As Almodovar's early muse, Maura owns her dominance of the film, the water-spurting on a hot summer night, the rendition of Laura P, the anger and indignity of exposing her veiled past and a face-to-face confession, magnificently dazzling and plain impressive. His male muse, Banderas, has a strapping figure and oozes all the fervor for the man of his life, gritty and arresting. By comparison, leading man Poncela may recede under the guise of a so-so performance, his dearth of personal charisma might not live up to sustain the story in a plausible manner, but his queer bearing is well-presented here. As usual, there are distinctive side characters galore, Velasco proves herself as a blossoming talent and Bibiana Fernández has a short but intensive spell as her negligent mother.

Speaking for myself, Almodovor's canon is always a safe haven, and this one has all his trappings all over the place, and it is male-centered, more self-referential in a way, supposedly more intriguing on this ground.

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