Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989) Poster

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A gripping movie, and often misunderstood
bargross29 November 2001
After all I heard and read about this movie, I think this one of the most commonly misunderstood movies ever. It is not a comedy (although sometimes bizarre). It is NOT a glorification of violence. It is not about S/M or Bondage (which occurs between consenting parties). It's message is NOT that if you tie up and beat a woman, she will love you in return.

This is a movie about two people who are unable to master life on their own. This has led Ricky to the mental ward and Marina to being a drug-addicted porn star, who just happens to have a streak of luck because a movie director is completely obsessed with her. In the end, the two have found each other and it looks as if together, they can find the happiness and home they always were looking for. Beautiful...

Yes, Ricky's method of convincing Marina to love him is horrible and unacceptable. His attitude toward women and life in general is seriously twisted, and he just cannot think of any other way to get what he needs to fulfill his desire of living what he considers an ordinary life. Why does Marina fall for it? Probably because he's the first person who ever seemed to care about her. He fights to get her, he fights to help her. Even if his interest in her is ruthless and possessive, it is a genuine, deep interest and that is what she has been missing all her life.

I found Atame to be a fascinating and remarkable movie. Watch it open-minded and try to look beneath the pure surface of the plot, and you will be moved and captivated by its beauty.
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people don't get the irony
I'm amazed that people don't get the irony underlying this film. If you've seen other, earlier Almodovar films, you'll know that he explores sexual situations that come emanate from all sorts of crazy situations (think of Law of Desire (1987), for example, in which Banderas plays a man exploring his homosexuality). But what makes this film so great is that, unlike Almodovar's other films, it attempts to explore the nature of the "conventional," heterosexual matrix which, through Almodovar's eyes, becomes completely nonsensical. Indeed, the relationship between Marina and Ricky is meant, ultimately, to be a parody of how such relationships work, as if heterosexuality (and its consequence, marriage) are almost inevitably equivalent in character to the infamous Stockholm syndrome. The final twist of the film, mistakenly hated for its apparently patriarchal overtones, is in fact a humorous subversion of conventional sexual politics. `You're crazy! Love a man who kidnaps you and ties you up? Is that normal?' exclaims Marina's sister. Well, actually, yes, according to Almodovar, it's completely normal. When viewed with irony (most viewers seem to have a bad case of literal disease when it comes to this film), this movie is a devastating critique of modern heterosexuality. Note that the trio sing the Spanish version of "I will survive" at the very end, when everything has supposedly worked out, in Candide fashion, for the best...
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What not to like about this movie?
aymanrizk7 September 2004
I just loved every aspect of this movie... The acting by both Victoria Abril and Antonio Banderas is superb. Even the sister delivers a very convincing performance. The director, Pedro Almodóvar, is the same one who brought us masterpieces like "Talk to her" and "All about my mother". Although you wouldn't figure it out from the plot lines of the three movies, "Tie me up, Tie me down" is much lighter and less involved than the other two.

The pace (as with all Almodóvar's movies) is just the right one, not too fast or slow. I did not like the character of the director in the movie and did not like his acting that much... Probably the only weak couple of scenes are those depicting his infatuation with Marina.

The ending may seem predictable and lame, but I liked it…. It is one of those feel good endings.

Although there is a hot sexy scene in this movie, I question the NC-17 US rating for that scene. I saw so many R-rated movies that were much more explicit... My point is; if you get this movie thinking it was one of those European soft porn flicks, you will be disappointed.

My vote: 9/10.
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A Bizarre Love Story `À La Almodòvar'
Claudio Carvalho28 August 2003
Marina Osorio (Victoria Abril) is a soft-porno star kidnapped in her own apartment by Ricky (Antonio Banderas), a guy who has just left a mental institution. He wants to get married with her. The storyline in this weird love story recalls `The Collector', i.e., a man kidnaps a woman because he is in love with her. But on the contrary of the William Wyler's drama in a cold and isolate farm in an English countryside, the situations in Almodóvar's colorful movie in the center of Madrid are very erotic and funny. For example, the scene when Marina is having a bath in her bathtub is hilarious. This cult movie is certainly not one of the best in Almodóvar´s filmography, but it is mandatory for those who are his fan. My vote is seven.
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Ricky has to find a way to reach the love of his life even if he has to tie her down to do it.
psmoviemaven31 January 2002
As far as I am concerned this is Almodóvar's most erotic comedic film ever made. I don't know how much has to do with the chemistry between Victoria Abril and Antonio Bandaras or if they are just excellent actors. !Atame! or "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" in English has all of Almodovars' usual suspects and the story is told with the proper amount of impish humor and believable drama. Antonio Banadaras is 'comeble' as Ricky the orphaned, juvenal delinquent now grown and with a sexual talent to be admired. And Victoria Abril plays well the unknowing stalked film actress, who tries to use her wits to outsmart Ricky until he slowly wins her over. This is played for comedic satire and it works. One who doesn't appreciate this film obviously misses the subtleness of seduction. Oh yes, you must watch the subtitled version to pick up the intonations of the original voices and language. !Ay que calor!
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Both heads functioning at full capacity
Quicksand13 March 2000
I have to wonder why anyone who would give this movie a low rating felt the need to see it in the first place. Did you think you were gonna get a 90 minute subtitled skin flick? Tsk, tsk.

The characters are incredibly well-defined and the writing is ingenious. The scene in the apartment when Banderas first breaks in and confronts Abril is writing at perfection-- this man has forced his way in, but you go from liking him, to hating him, to liking him again in just this short little scene. The history between these characters is truly warped, and that makes this a really enjoyable film to watch, and I'm not just saying that because of the nudity.

Almodovar may have his obsessions, but that doesn't mean the rest of the movie isn't worth watching. It is, and will make you think, which I know a lot of American film-watchers don't like to do.

I had never seen an Almodovar film before, but I am so glad I did. Makes me want to find out just what else has been out there.

Artsy little film, with both heads functioning at full capacity. 9/10.
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Lively, colorful, and twistedly funny.
William12 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is a film to see with an open mind. I found nothing offensive or sexist about this film, which deals with two unusual and sexually-liberated people of extremes. Ricky (Antonio Banderas) is a mental patient who had just been released from the sanitarium. Marina is an ex-porn star now doing a low-budget, horror movie. Marina is also a drug user. Ricky is obsessed with Marina, & we later learn they were once sexual together. Ricky proceeds with his obsession and plans of romance and the future, and kidnaps Marina. The kidnapping was not meant to be violent, but events turn out to be somewhat violent. Ricky tells Marina she will fall in love with him, and they will get married and have a family. Marina resists. Ricky feels such a need for Marina, so much that he must tie her up and keep her quiet when he is sleeping, or out of the apartment. He believes she will eventually fall in love with him, but Marina's actions are discouraging. He tries to get her to like him when they are not in uncomfortable situations, and he tries to be a good provider. He even becomes angry over Marina's drug abuse. Marina seems to adjust to her kidnapping, & becomes more social with Ricky. He goes to lengths to provide Marina with the things she needs, and ends up getting beaten up in the process. SPOILERS: Marina suddenly finds herself feeling emotions for Ricky when he arrives beaten and bruised. She begins to kiss him, & tries to make him feel better. They make love/have sex; lively and verbally. Ricky decides it is time to leave Madrid, Spain, and go elsewhere. Marina agrees. He steals a car, but in the meantime Marina's colorful sister, Lola (Loles Leon) discovers Marina. They take to escape as Ricky comes back to find he is now alone. Lola finds Marina's story disturbing, and Marina's love for Ricky to be "kinky." However, Lola will help Marina find Ricky if Marina feels that strongly for him. Ricky & Marina are reunited with Lola's help, and in the end Ricky and Lola discuss his new status as a family member within Marina and Lola's family. This is not a film about violence or sex as a lot of people seem to believe, and the violence that occurs is part of the plot. The sex is easily because of the love between the two main characters, and we know people in love like to make love. It is true the plot of a man kidnapping a woman to get her to fall in love with him is extreme, but remember Ricky is a character of extremes. He is a man obsessed with Marina. He is a man with the idea that he will get her to love him no matter what it takes. Antonio Banderas plays Ricky extemely well. Victoria Abril plays Marina excellently. The rest of the cast is a colorful collection of Spanish actors and actresses. Several have been in other films by Pedro Almodovar. Loles Leon stands out as Marina's sister. This film contains nudity; including frontal nudity, profanity, sexual situations, violence (the violence in the film is nothing of an unusually violent nature) and drug use. It is rated NC-17, but probably not for the sex scene. It more likely received this rating for the bathtub scene in which a wind-up toy swims its way between Marina's legs and is shown penetrating her. Almodovar can create very colorful characters and situations, and the film is full of different emotions. His use of humor is interjected wonderfully, and is a good break for the film's more serious scenes. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is very good in every way (acting, writing, music, direction, technical, etc.), and everyone I have shown this film to has enjoyed it.
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A very sexy film- a MANS chick flick. This is a bit twisted and fun.
dilbertsuperman18 June 2006
Our hero is a mentally ill man who can't stop thinking about a girl who rocked his world back in the past. He is released from the institution and goes ahead with the paint by numbers obsession masquerading as love routine. This is the kind of love where you beat the living $hit out of your girlfriend because you love her so much and then complain to her afterward.. look what you made me do- it's all your fault you whore because I love you so much.

While this is a completely sick and abusive way to run a relationship, apparently some women like domination and the intense attention they get from a psychopath. This explains a lot of seemingly unlikely pairings in the world- deep down inside, a real girl likes to be submitted by the alpha male.

If you understand this, you can understand this movie and how it plays out- otherwise you will be screaming at the movie yeah right - could never happen- but the FUNNY thing about this movie is it could and does happen. Bad girls need lots of attention.

The script is rich with turns and twists which bounces off the fact that our leading lady, a former porn star and heroin addict trying to kick has just finished up a regular movie and they want to call her back for post-prod.-Problem is.. she's tied up at the moment with her new boyfriend...

This is a romantic comedy with good old Spanish humor which revolves around fiery romance and doing the dumbest thing possible in a situation, --it mirrors what the testosterone told you to do.

I was reminded of Jamon Jamon with the lead character-who is of course.. Antonio Banderas. Before seeing the film-I thought Banderas was a negative for the film, but he actually does this character quite well!
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One of Almodovar's Best
sundog113 December 2003
Atame! is my favorite Almodovar film. A lot of people don't think it is incredibly great, but I have to disagree.

Although Talk to Her is probably his most accomplished & strongest film to date, Atame has a light comedic air without the tragic overtones of his latest films. The movie provides some insight into the film-making process a la Fellini. It also deals with psychological imprisonment, release, and how some forms of entrapment are preferable to others.

Both leads are great, and it's easy to see how Banderas' charisma led him to be such a well known actor in later years.

Highly recommended.
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One of his better movies but often misunderstood
Uncle_Festering9 October 2001
Although Tie me up, tie me down doesn't reach the levels of greatness that Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown did, this is none the less a hilarious movie.

First thing that you should remember is that this is a FARCE. It isn't intended to reflect a real situation or inspire people to imitate it. As a matter of fact, I'd be hard pressed to believe that anyone watching this movie would come away thinking they should kidnap someone to make them fall in love. That would be the difference between a movie and reality.

That being said the movie does have a lot to say about what people will do for love and how love and lust tie us to other people. It also makes the great point that love doesn't change who we are, but it does change how we perceive those we are in love with.

And in case I forgot to mention it, the movie is funny. Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril both are very good but Loles León steals the movie as the air-headed sister.
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You can't make anyone fall in love with you...can you?
Ben Harding26 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
¡Átame! is a charming film. It is emotional and full of small twists and turns. The film is about a man who just got released from a mental institution. He knows exactly what he wants, and goes to great lenghts to get it. He hunts down an actress he once had sex with - he wants to settle down with her and have babies together. When he finds her, he kidnaps her and holds her hostage in the apartment she lives in to make her like him.

The film is very interesting, and another way to portray a love story. It's a about two people who have nothing to lose - him, no family and mentally unstable, whilst her, a seemingly unhappy actress with a drug addiction. With him having power over her and keeping her prisoner, he tries to keep her "happy" by buying more comfortable rope and tape to tie her down with. So it's quite interesting in the end when her sister finds and befrees her - she admits she is in love with him, even though she is very scared. It sends the message that people do develop some kind of relationship, even if it isn't wanted or even intended in the first place.

I did like the film as it had a new, more realistic take on how love works.

"Love is blind, love is free, love is whatever you make it to be" is what I believe love is, and fits this film's message well.
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two-thirds of a fantastic dark comedy on the nature of sexual insanity, though not as successful as later Almodovar
MisterWhiplash31 January 2007
It's safe to say that even in a film by Pedro Almodovar that is only marginally successful within the margins there are some good, steamy, questionable times to be had. I can just imagine Pedro sitting in front of his notebook just figuring out ways to mix sex, film-making, kidnapping, and other lewd exercises into some kind of cohesive single film. What makes a very good chunk of Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down exciting satirically is that Almodovar never gives in to making anything TOO serious. Which is perhaps what ends up transitioning the situation Ricky (Antonio Banderas) and Marina (Victoria Abril) are in from the absurd and flirtingly masochistic to the (ironically) conventional and quasi-sweetness that is obviously deep in Almodovar. Perhaps the tying up and re-tying becomes part of a metaphor on the filmmaker's part, that despite it being something very dangerous and totally provocative it's also inviting in ways that would be elusive otherwise. Then again, that the material does (mostly) work, by being so disturbing in the bluntness and perpetually deranged mind-set of Ricky, but then in the human connections that are enhanced all the more. If only the motivations- even in such loose and wacky-Almodovar circumstances- were a little more convincing.

Nevertheless, I liked a lot about Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down up until it goes off the rails with its logic turning into knots (simply, I just don't buy that Marina falls for Ricky just like that, even if she was an ex-junkie porn star, and Ricky's advances are like that of a uppity, headstrong but shy 13 year old, a slight reminder of A Life Less Ordinary's bizarrely innocuous kidnapping turned romance). Chiefly, the performances and the usually arty-yet-trashy style from Almodovar and his crew. Banderas is, by the way, in one of his best and funniest performances here, a near emblem of the male ideal for a life with a woman, and a with an innocent yet fervent attraction to bondage, with that perfect look in his eyes detailing all even in brief moments. Yet there was something about his stay in the mental home all those years that did something to his ideas towards sex and what it is to live, and Banderas captures this mix of intense sadism crossed with the heart of an old Hollywood-studio leading man who will do anything to brush the leading lady off of her feet. Abril is always believable too, even when Almodovar gives her character a turn around into something more akin to an exploitation film, however sweet it tries to be. While she decides to underplay her immediate fear of her kidnapper, it works to add a level of comic timing to Ricky's own odd-ball ways. They make a great pair, really, especially when it comes to that 'turning point', where Almodovar uses his unique style to get five ceiling-mirrored shot of a pivotal scene.

There's also a fantastic role of the director of the film Marina is starring in at the start of the film, the aged Maximo Espejo (Francisco Rabal, who's been in countless films including the Eclipse and Belle de Jour), who has the ideas burning and changing around at a beat as to what his ending will be for his actress- death, being saved, something else? His moments on screen display a richness that lies often in Almodovar's script, where the surreal pressures of shooting the movie for Maximo somewhat carry over- and sort of dissipate as the characters become vulnerable- into that realm where reality and un-reality cross paths. This is heightened, and made a little additionally conventional, by the musical score, which like many of Almodovar's work is a tip of the hat to Herrmann compositions and old Hollywood romantic classics. There's even an emotional upheaval when Ricky and Marina meet again on that balcony overlooking the vista. The wildest thing about the picture is that one does become absorbed in the push and pull relationship between 'kidnapper' and 'kidnapee' (I quote that for its a little redundant to use those terms as the film goes on), and that these f***ed up people are practically the most average couple you'd ever meet. There's sensational comedy stacked in there too, in Ricky's behavior (moustache), the film within the film being shot (that strongman character is amazing), the random TV commercial about Spanish retirees, and just the consistent absurdity in the repetitive, ritual-side of the tying up and down. But there's something missing in Almodovar's third act to live up to the better parts early on, and he chickens out on really making this a much better, more challenging effort. I'll probably watch it someday again though, if only for Banderas and Rabals' performances.
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Male/female interaction
macc08030 July 2005
I agree with the above. I also think that it has to be viewed in a social context, as most of Almodovar's movies should be. I believe that it makes a beautiful statement about the construction of gender, in that both Ricky and Marina show typically "male" and typically "female" attributes. That's a pretty serious undertaking in a country where women only got the right to vote 30 years ago and divorce is still a huge deal. In response to Ricky's and Marina's finding a "home" within each other, one they could not find elsewhere, I think that runs an interesting parallel to the entire Spanish society. I found this film a lot more intriguing once I learned about the history of Spain, especially the cultural history between men and women. Very, very cool.
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Daring and Different
Mitch-382 January 2001
Warning: Spoilers
*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* Freaky, but engrossing story about a mental patient (played by Antonio Banderas, in his pre-ZORRO days), who kidnaps the "girl of his dreams." The girl (played by Victoria Abril) is a "retired" porn star, turned drug addict. He is constantly tying her to the bed which, after the story develops, frees herself of bad habits and grows a new dependency on the ropes. Submission turns into an odd respect for her captor, and fulminates into very strong feelings.

Macabre, dark humor interspersed with a genuinely compelling story. See TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! with an open mind or prepare yourself for the consequences. This seems to be the case, with most of the celebrated Almodovar's films.
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Great movie from Almodóvar
caa8215 August 2006
To describe a film using the words "Almodóvar" and "great" is unnecessarily redundant. As I've characterized before, he is, to Spain, what Altman, Allen, Mamet, Lynch, Levinson, Scorsese, Stone, et al, are to the U. S., "all rolled into one." I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Spain, traveling throughout, not just on vacation, but for extended periods on business, where you get to know the places, culture and people even better. Madrid is the most magnificent place one can imagine, and from Ibiza and Gran Canaria, to the Costa del Sol, there is no part of this country which is not fascinating and interesting, in terms of beauty, history and the people. Even if Almodóvar possessed no more talent than Ed Wood, his films would be worth viewing for the locales and scenery. But that isn't the case - you get the whole package every time. In this story, most of his usual ensemble of actors appears, providing outstanding performances, without exception.

Despite the often bizarre personas depicted by Almodóvar's characters, and situations which are equally so, they nonetheless end up seeming more engaging, likable and normal than the more mundane. Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abríl, and their characters, "Ricky" and "Marina," are handsome, off-beat (to say the least), and incredibly sensual - both individually and as a "couple." But, you know what? All of this works, and you love them, and have no problem believing that as the picture ends, they will be happier, more faithful, better parents, and enjoy more fulfilling lives henceforth than, say, the Cleavers, Bradys, or the "Father Knows Best" or "Cosby" clans. In my opinion, directorial geniuses, such as Almodóvar, Allen and Levinson have an innate ability to present stories and characters in a manner where metaphor and reality somehow fuse and join, to entertain and provide a profound message - in harmony - and without either facet detracting from the other.

When you go to rent a DVD or tape, or scan the movie section in your newspaper, always keep a lookout for Almodóvar's latest.
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A delightful movie
tnlamonica30 March 2002
Antonio Banderas was truly in his form and height of career when he was cast in Almovodar's Spanish movies. Banderas portrayed innocence and simplicity of character in these early movies that Hollywood always seems to make large and gloss over any sort of character development. There is something that Hollywood seems to drain away and leave behind in the character of people, yet Banderas/Almovodar capture so perfectly the average man/woman and portray them in interesting ways. Atame (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down) is a delicious little movie about a crook who falls in love with an actress. To get her attention, he kidnaps her and the fun begins. Almovodar's movies are always filled with quirky characters, funny dialogue and plot twists. To see Antonio Banderas at his finest playing a simple man who falls in love but has some issues..Atame is a cute, touching movie to rent.
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there is no irony, only a morally-offensive picture
dholliday16 April 2015
I'm no prude, not even close. And I have little time for most of the hysterical cries of modern middle-class feminism. But I believe violence-against-women to be one of the worlds' most profound (and common) problems and as such must be handled with care & respect in artistic mediums. There are many dumb movies which feature such violence but are justly ignored by the discerning viewer. Once Were Warriors & Nil By Mouth are two films which deal with this issue in an admirable way.

Almodóvar is someone who's raved about by the intellectual film community, and as such there is a responsibility for the film critic to question his values where appropriate. His films glorifies the woman-as-victim image: or rather the woman-as-plaything (see also La piel que habito). Tie Me Up champions this value, glamourises it, and worst of all, romanticises it. It's the male-chauvinist fantasy those mad fems have been warning us about all along, except they probably don't recognise it themselves as it's Almodóvar.

If you understand the psychology of women in abusive relationships, it's the feeling of being trapped and of being fooled by the perceived romanticism of it which prevents many from protecting themselves. It's a genuine problem, with lots of potential in the film medium as a dramatic premise. This film does the very opposite of shining a light on this issue, it merely encourages it. Those that claim detractors "miss the point", or "don't understand the irony" are missing the point themselves: there is no irony. It is what it is, and it is morally-irresponsible.

Still, the film-buff in me doesn't want to rate it quite a 1/10: the acting from both leads is very good, and the film's technicolour is appealing.

Recommended for those who want to decide for themselves.

Not recommended if the negative reviews here have convinced you.
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Unconventional love story that just misses its mark.
ProperCharlie24 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
** Some Spoilery **

Once upon a time there was a straightforward story. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Boy and girl share time, experiences and feelings. Boy still likes girl. Girl likes boy even more. Boy and girl live together happily ever after. Normally those shared experiences include some light comedy, a few moments of embarrassment, occasions of sadness and anger, and if we're lucky, those rare moments of true connection when heart meets heart and they beat together brightly while the world goes on around them. 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' ( I would use 'Atame!' but I can't do upside-down exclamation marks), is such a love story and has all of the above present and correct. Two innocents meet by chance off-screen, and their paths to the future are set. Or at least that's what they boy thinks.

This film dares to use a controversial narrative to get the girl, and for that it deserves full marks. Its setting is childishly colourful and bright which is fitting considering the two leads are really teenagers in adult bodies. The mood is generally light. Even in the darker moments with the director's allusions to Hitchcockian suspense and horror, the suspense never materialises, soon bursting in a confection of whimsical threatlessness. The portrayal of a naive and obsessive love is wonderful. The fact that it celebrates this without criticism or cynicism is more wonderful still. There are no moral qualms about sex, sexuality, or nudity which might be dismissed (wrongly) as being 'European' in some quarters. This is as refreshing as it is rare. Both leads are having fun entirely appropriate to their roles.

However, I feel that the story here falls short of where it wants to be. Marina's emergence from her status as victim, becoming one of the lovers is rapid and not convincing. Her feelings revolve around toothache and pain relief. Her fear of her kidnapper is never that genuine. I'm glad there's no Stockholm syndrome in play, but there do need to be some moments where she loses the fear she should have and gains a trust she's never had before. Their absence lets down the film. The film also shies away from the fetishistic aspects of bondage. Though not a part of the story, they're certainly integral to the way the camera pans up the body of Marina when she's tied to the bed. Worse still, the film seems to support the view that power exchange within a relationship is not a healthy thing, and that 24/7 equality is to be striven for. A very safe viewpoint for such an 'edgy' film.

There is more good than bad here, but as a whole, it disappoints. Perhaps the main legacy of this film is that it was (allegedly) the first film to be rated NC-17 in the US, although the importance of this is probably overstated.
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Brings out the aching need of a handicapped person for love and respect
L. Denis Brown18 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a riotous feast of black comedy made in bold vibrant colours by the highly regarded Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. Viewers will either love it or hate it, I side firmly with the first group. Nevertheless to really enjoy it, the viewer needs to feel some empathy with the characters played by the two romantic leads. This requires recognition that the film is intended to be pure farce, and that some allowance should be made for anti-social behaviour since both leads are psychologically damaged characters.

Despite the comedy, the film is a serious work which features a very unusual love affair between two mentally handicapped people. This does nothing to explain what I found to be its very real charm, but to say much more would normally constitute an unfortunate spoiler. However, the very unfortunate English language title under which this film was released in North America (Tie me Up, Tie me Down) not only provides this spoiler but is also potentially misleading; and it will probably be helpful to add that the film has nothing to do with S & M practices. The bondage is designed to prevent an unwilling prospective bride from running away, but merely increases her determination to eventually do so. The incident which finally changes her mind about her suitor constitutes the heart of the film and is a perceptive look at what really makes many people tick. The aching need of a handicapped person for love and respect comes through very clearly, and makes this film very well worth watching. For this reason I rate it at eight out of ten.
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A Romantic, Kinky Comedy
domino10036 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Atame!" (Or Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! in English), is the last collaboration between Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas, and they give us something to remember.

Banderas plays Ricky, an orphan that has spent a great deal of his life in a mental institution. He is released back into society and already has plans for his future.

During one of his escape attempts, he met Marina (Victoria Abril)in a bar and had a one night stand. Even after all this time, he still wants to get back with her. Marina, who is a former porn star and recovering addict, is in the middle of doing a horror film directed by Maximo (Francisco Rabal). Her sister Lola (Loles Leon) works behind the scenes. Ricky sneaks onto the set in an attempt to speak to her. However, it seems that Marina doesn't know who he is. Determined to get her to remember him, Ricky holds her hostage in her apartment. Not too happy with this development (especially when he hits her), she refuses to give in to his wishes, so Ricky keeps her tied up in order for her to be his.

The film becomes a battle of wills: Ricky wants to marry Marina and have kids with her, but Marina doesn't want anything to do with her kidnapper. Will love, with all of its twists and turns, conquer all?

The film was one of the catalysts for the NC 17 rating (Its sex scene was deemed an X rating), and you can sort of understand why. It is VERY steamy.

Sex scene aside, you are so caught up in this story that you sort of forget how creepy the situation is: after all, he is pretty much a stalker that kidnaps a woman to force her to fall for him.

I won't give away the ending, because you can pretty much guess how it will turn out anyway. An interesting entry in Almodovar's filmography.
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Sexy subtitled black comedy.
Baldach22 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I have enjoyed this movie since college. This Spainsh film is subtitled so it may take time to understand the dialogue. The plot is defintely unusual, a former mental patient kidnaps and bonds a B-movie actress. Yet somehow the plot shows that romance can emerge in the most unusal circumstances.

Spoiler... Other reviewers have mentioned that there was a history (pre-plot) between the former mental patient and the actress not mentioned in the movie. Appartently the former mental patient (kidnapper) had a one night stand with the B-movie actress when she was on illegal drugs. And during the time mental patient was incaretated all he could do was become obessed with the actress.
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A fairytale romance
campblood1314 August 2003
I can't say too much about this film without giving it away. Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril give good performances as their characters have such depth to them. Pedro Almodovar directs this film beautifully as he can't seem to make a bad film nowadays. For some strange reason I could identify with Ricky and his obsession with taking care of a woman who has many addictions. One thing I remember from the film is the music, I loved it. The final scene involves music and it was my favorite. This should not have been rated NC-17. A good film for mature adults. 6/10 Good
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This is my favourite Almodovar movie and probably...
Mara-135 August 1999
This is my favourite Almodovar movie and probably one of his masterpieces.

I have to confess that I have a weakness for this Spanish director because he really knows what passion is and you can see it from his movies. This movie has everything you may want: fun, drama, romance and even a couple of 'hot' scenes. Antonio Banderas is at his best and Victoria Abril is great. My vote for ¡Átame! is 10.
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Almodovar's masterpiece to date
ncoxny1 August 2001
And the best romantic comedy of the decade.

Almodovar may err on the side of exploitation, but he always has

genuine compassion for his characters. His situations are always

interesting, but his films can at times be uneven. He's perfectly

focused in this film.

Antonio Banderes plays a released mental patient who tracks

down a one time porno actress/ one time junkie who currently

stars in a series of slasher films. He follows her home and ties

her up. He does not rape, rob, or hurt her. He instead insists that

they had an affair before, and that they said that they'd get married

should Banderes be released. At first, she naturally thinks he's

nuts. But the more he keeps her captive, the more she begins to

succumb to his charms.

A wonderful film, full of color, humor, romance, and one of the best

sex scenes I've ver seen.
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Revolting, sexist film
dbrown-427 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers

There have been people here who have called this film sexist with a dangerous message, and others who insist this is a figment of the imagination.

These are the facts of what this film expects us to believe:

A woman is forcibly kidnapped at her home. She is threatened with a knife, and when she screams, she is given a brutal headbutt, knocking out one of her teeth, swelling up her cheek, leaving her face gashed and bleeding. She loses consciousness. When she regains consciousness, she is continually tied up with rope to her bed, and her mouth is always kept shut with tape. Her abductor claims he has the right to kidnap her because they had sexual relations within the previous year. He is physically and verbally abusive to her. He instructs her to call her mother, and then threatens that he will slit both their throats if she tries to tell her mother she is kidnapped. She is treated like an animal in a cage. Her abductor insists, though, that he "simply wants her to get to know him" and that once she knows him, she will see how adorable he is and fall in love with him. He also tells her he's spent his entire life in mental hospitals, but she apparently takes little note of this fact. However, she tells him she will "never love him" and that he is wasting his time. Yet he persists, taking every rebuff and rejection as a sign to pursue even further, to never give up.

Miraculously, our abductor's plan works! After a couple days, he returns to her after he was beaten to a pulp and robbed on the street. (Of course, this was in retaliation to a robbery at knifepoint committed by him previously.) While she is tending his open sores, she begins to complain openly about the "animals" which did this to him. She starts to caress his body while she tends his wounds, and before long she is kissing his open sores, and not long after that she's telling him "don't come" and "don't pull it out yet" while she screams in ecstatic pleasure to his pounding. After they have sex, she tells him, "Ah, yes. NOW I remember you." Remember, boys, THAT'S the way to get a woman to remember you. After all, a woman NEVER forgets a good f**king. After the woman is rescued and finds herself safe among family and friends, what does she do? Call the police? Press charges? Start her way through a painful emotional process? NO! The first thing she does is go out and find her Cary Grant so she can bring him back to meet the family! Cary Grant gets the girl! They all drive off into a sunset (REALLY!) and live happily ever after. THE frigging END.

These are just the facts of the film. It's a nice story. I'll let you come to your own conclusions.

Having known women friends who have been physically and verbally abused, stalked for months, and harassed while dating, this film was anything but funny. While no one in their right mind will walk away with the impression that kidnapping and assault will win a woman's heart, the impression will be formed in the subconscious (especially upon the young and impressionable) that yeah, she really does want it rough; yeah, she really does want you to force her around; yeah, they all like the bad boys after all; and yeah, "no" really means "yes", they just don't realize it. People mention S&M in regard to this movie. Irrelevant -- people who practice S&M do so based on trust and loving relationships; kidnapping is based on fear, mistrust, and violent force. The two are polar opposites of each other.

Even the scenes of sex and nudity are unnecessary and distracting. Wow, women masturbate. How shocking. Wow, people sweat and moan during sex. How exciting. None of it advances the plot much. The scenes only seem to be there to get that artsy-fartsy NC-17 rating, which supposedly adds a touch of class and respectability to an otherwise boring and tedious film.
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