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Pedro Almodóvar creates a hit, following up the frenetic & entertaining "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" with an erotic comic-fantasy. "Átame" (English title, "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!") is a wealth of sexual comedy presented in a unique way that can only be ascribed to this inventive director. Many women may try to over-intellectualise the plot, or criticize the actions the main characters as inane. This is not a "love story", it's a "quirky love story-turned sexual fantasy". The story is delightfully funny, the actors build and deliver sexual tension quite well. This is a definite must-see (though you can't be too prude or offended by sexually explicit material).
While the topic of this work is rather wacky, I enjoyed it immensely and
had little trouble following the plot (his stuff is known to be just a bit
hard to follow, especially for non-Spanish speakers). I also felt the
of Abril and Banderas were better than usual.
There has been some talk of the NC-17 rating and I recall that this was "awarded" more because of the topic of a woman falling in love with her attacker than the sex, per se. I might be wrong about this, though.
It's Almodovar's best film that I've seen. Complex, raw, provocative and
very funny. Most of the initial press/comments on this film seemed to be
fairly ignorant. It's not sexist at all; it's quite a vicious critique of
the roles and expectations women are faced with and how they compromise
themselves and their desires to face them.
I thought it was astounding, hilarious and thought-provoking.
*** This review may contain 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.
*** This review may contain 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
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.
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
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.
It's best not to know what happens. If you haven't seen the film you
shouldn't read my remarks. Be wary of reading other peoples',
I could have lived with a woman falling in love with her kidnapper. No doubt it happens. Even if it doesn't happen, there's no reason why it shouldn't serves as the basis of a good story. It sounds like the basis of an excellent story.
One thing to make clear - although it's an obvious enough point - the film has no message, let alone the message: "If you really love a woman, and want her to love you, kidnap her." That's in the form of an imperative, and Almodóvar's film, whatever else it is, is not in imperatival; form. (This is not trivial; some films ARE imperatival.)
Even if there were a message of some kind, it would not be easy to work out what it is, since it's next to impossible to work out what relevant truths hold in the world of the fiction. Is the love that develops between Marina and Ricky ultimately a healthy love, or not? Do Ricky's extreme tactics work in general, or do they only work on people whose lives are like Marina's? Or do they only work in this particular case? Are Ricky's actions meant to be justified - in the world of the fiction - or are they unjustified even there? All of these are hard to tell. I'm not sure if this is a bad thing.
What I am sure is a bad thing is that the heroine, Marina, is too passive. (I mean "too passive" in its literal sense; I'm not using it as code for "not feminist enough".) She should have made a genuine effort to escape - just once. Or she should have been more cunning - at least on occasion. Or she should have spoken out more. Or, just once, she should have snapped. She comes close to doing all of these things, but she always draws back. It's frustrating.
I've realised - just as I was typing the previous paragraph - that she DOES make one concerted effort to escape; it's when Ricky is out getting beaten up by thugs. And to be fair, it IS dramatically apt that this attempt occur just before she finds she's fallen in love with him - otherwise the story would be the even more unsatisfying one of how Ricky gradually wore her down. Still, it would have been better if she had been a more active character, in SOME respect, earlier on.
-Okay, so maybe I'm wrong about the "too passive" thing, but my other two complaints still stand. Firstly, and less importantly, Ricky never pays any price either for his actions or for the prize he eventually wins. He never has to experience guilt; he never loses any battle, on any front, with Marina. (He gets beaten up, of course, but that doesn't count: it's for the unrelated crime of pinching drugs.) Secondly, the kidnapping story is all the more unsatisfying because it's basically all we get. The other two Almodóvar films I've seen both have a rich undergrowth of supporting character and sub-plot, which this one lacks. While not all films need such an undergrowth, this one does. -It's not that there are no other characters. Take the lecherous old director, for instance. He steps on stage to spark off part of the story, but thereafter Almodóvar does NOTHING with him. Yet we continue to see him every so often. Why? I suspect because Almodóvar wanted to cut away every so often, and needed something to cut away to.
"Tie me up, etc." has many typical Almodóvar strengths - glorious colours, fascinating characters, strong narrative grip - but it's all a bit flat. The director has done better at least twice. I suspect he usually does better.
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.
An unbalanced but alluring former mental patient (Antonio Banderas)
takes a porn star (Victoria Abril) prisoner in the hopes of convincing
her to marry him.
How can anyone deny the beautiful, almost dreamlike use of color in this film? Trying to find anything comparable is a challenge. The musicals of Jacques Demy? No, not even those.
"Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" comes from a strong pedigree, as it follows in the myth of Beauty and the Beast and the notion that the savagery of the Beast is, in the presence of Beauty, tamed by gentler feelings. This has been a recurrent theme in films like "King Kong", "Frankenstein" and "Tarzan the Ape Man". Some have even drawn parallels to "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" in that kidnapping can lead to romance.
The soundtrack was composed by Ennio Morricone in the style of a thriller and is reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann's score for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho". This music changes the whole tone. Some consider the film a "dark romantic comedy" and others even say there is a hint of horror in there. Much of the mood relies on the music -- with a lighter tone, this could just be an "offbeat" romantic comedy and not a "dark" one -- there is very little about the film that is dark besides the music.
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