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Reviews & Ratings for
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! More at IMDbPro »Átame! (original title)

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Sexy subtitled black comedy.

Author: Baldach from Arizona
22 July 2002

*** This review may contain 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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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of his better movies but often misunderstood

Author: Uncle_Festering from Philadelphia, PA
9 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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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Lively, colorful, and twistedly funny.

Author: William ( from Lancaster, Pennsylvania
12 March 2002

*** This review may contain 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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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Great movie from Almodóvar

Author: caa821 from Tulsa OK
5 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

You can't make anyone fall in love with you...can you?

Author: Ben Harding from Norway
26 February 2009

*** This review may contain 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Provocative power-play; Almodóvar's most unconventional romance to date

Author: Graham Greene from United Kingdom
3 September 2008

A love story with strings attached; Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990) is without question Almodóvar's most unconventional romance to date, expressing a number of themes that seem to continually contradict one another, while still managing to offer the usual ideas of meta-fiction and narrative self-reflexivity that Almodóvar's work is noted for. The film is also worth seeing for the subtle way in which the director develops and extends upon recognisable elements from his previous films, Matador (1987) and The Law of Desire (1987) - both of which focus on the ideas of obsession and domination within the context of an unconventional relationship - but extends upon these issues with a kind of manic, melodramatic kitsch that can be seen in the directly preceding Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) and the subsequent Kika (1993). Like Kika, the film would become one of Almodóvar's most derisive and controversial projects - particularly in the US - and although the presentation is often tamer than one might expect, the film nonetheless attempts to provoke the audience through a continual contrast of violence and tender sensuality, and the various other issues that the characters convey.

When your story revolves around a recently released mental patient kidnapping a recovering junkie porn actress in an attempt to make her fall in love with him through a combination of physical force and psychological manipulation, we know that certain elements are going to push the audience further than we might normally expect. However, in light of this, it is surprising how natural Almodóvar manages to make this bizarre relationship, creating a tone, both visually and thematically, that works in establishing this skewed, off-kilter world and the multifaceted complexities of his characters. If you keep in mind that the film is intended as farce - with the bold stylisations, larger-than-life characters and Almodóvar's great sense of musicality when it comes to the pitch, tone and energy of his performances - then you should be able to appreciate the film for what it is and what it is trying to achieve. On the one hand it is an incredibly entertaining film, with the great sparring between the two central protagonists and a veritable ensemble of larger than life supporting characters, including the legendary Francisco Rabal as a lascivious, wheelchair-bound film director focusing his creative energies into a final masterpiece, a sleazy epic about dangerous desires, lust and obsession (sound familiar?), but it is also an extremely thought-provoking and compelling piece of work that is open to deeper interpretations.

The dynamics within the relationship are nicely structured, with the character of Ricky initially standing out as a two-dimensional crazy person who is compelled to form a relationship with Marina after the couple shared a passionate one night stand almost a year before. The fact that Marina is able to cope with the situation, eventually taking the position of power, ultimately says a great deal about both of these characters, their lives and their back stories, and how the ending of the film could hold some kind of dramatic weight, even in light of its central abstractions. It helps that the performances from Banderas and Abril are as spirited and committed as they are; with both characters capturing that sense of confidence and strength punctuated by loneliness and a subtle fragility. Seeing work like Women on the Verge..., Kika and the film in question, you wonder why Almodóvar never made a full blown musical (what with those great big, theatrical sets, overwhelming Technicolor and sweeping crane shots). You can see these influences in much of his work, but instead of allowing the elements to explode into a wild collage of opulent self-indulgence (like the first half of Kika), the director manages to instead anchor the film to the personalities of his characters, their dynamics and relationship, and the complex interplay that will eventually develop between them.

Long time viewers of Almodóvar's work will immediately recognise the self-referential nature of the story, with the "film-within-a-film" aspect apparent right from the very start, with that continual Almodóvar-like framing devise, wherein the story within the film becomes a comment on the story itself. Alongside this central design we also have the character as a performer, an actress in this case, and a secondary character who is both an artist and delusional. As a result, we never quite know who to trust as the film progresses from one wild extreme to the next; with Almodóvar's always interesting directorial quirks and eccentricities creating an odd tone that can be seen as part crime thriller, part kinky sex comedy. Again, this style is well suited to the director's work and can be seen in everything from Matador, The Law of Desire and the acclaimed Live Flesh (1997). Though it has clearly proved to be problematic for many viewers (judging from the plethora of negative reviews listed online), I'd have to argue in its defence. For me, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is a great deal of fun; provocative certainly, with the continual contrast between violence and sensuality, humour and terror, but also filled with the usual wit, flair, depth and imagination that we've come to expect from the director and his work.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

two-thirds of a fantastic dark comedy on the nature of sexual insanity, though not as successful as later Almodovar

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
31 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A movie to be tied to the bed

Author: Cristian from Colombia
12 December 2006

"¡Atame!" or the English title "Tie me up! Tie me Down!" is one of the best works that i have seen of Almodovar. Is a funny, fresh and daring comedy. With beautiful music, "¡Atame!" is the clever story of Ricky, a crazy man who needs true love. He is obsessed with Marina, a porn star. And now he decides to kidnapped her and make anything and she can love him.

This movie is an amusing and maybe different of all that Almodovar do. Of course has the touch of his movies, but this one it stands out of the little number that i see of him. With Antonio Banderas like the crazy man and Victoria Abril, that i see last time in "Tacones Lejanos", "¡Atame! is a story of wishes and desire. A story of how the an human been can meet another human been. You can say: "I will never belong to that person" and the next day you can be in love of that person. And i hope that don't misinterpret me... i mean, kidnap a person is a bad thing, and i don't support him. But, of course we sometimes reject persons that could be our person. "¡Atame!" has too an interesting perspective of the direction of a film. The movie talks about the end of a movie maker. A movie maker that just want do his last work good, before dies. Maybe is a fright or is an aspiration that directors has, because they don't want that the work be bad, they want a perfect movie, just like this character. A fright that all of we must give to face, no matter our aspirations or work.

"¡Atame!" is a great comedy that we must take like fun and of course like a teaching.

*Sorry for the mistakes... well, if there any

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Male/female interaction

Author: macc080 from United States
30 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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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Daring and Different

Author: Mitch-38 from Houston, Texas
2 January 2001

*** This review may contain 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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