7.4/10
12,836
56 user 56 critic

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

A gay man and a political prisoner are together in a prison. The gay man narrates the stories of two fake movies and his own life.

Director:

Hector Babenco

Writers:

Manuel Puig (based on the novel by), Leonard Schrader

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Hurt ... Luis Molina
Raul Julia ... Valentin Arregui
Sônia Braga ... Leni Lamaison / Marta / Spider Woman (as Sonia Braga)
José Lewgoy ... Warden
Milton Gonçalves ... Pedro
Míriam Pires Míriam Pires ... Mother (as Miriam Pires)
Nuno Leal Maia ... Gabriel
Fernando Torres Fernando Torres ... Americo
Patricio Bisso Patricio Bisso ... Greta
Herson Capri Herson Capri ... Werner
Denise Dumont Denise Dumont ... Michele (as Denise Dummont)
Nildo Parente Nildo Parente ... Leader of Resistance
Antônio Petrin Antônio Petrin ... Clubfoot (as Antonio Petrin)
Wilson Grey Wilson Grey ... Flunky
Miguel Falabella Miguel Falabella ... Lieutenant
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Storyline

Luis Molina and Valentin Arregui are cell mates in a South American prison. Luis, a trans individual, is found guilty of immoral behavior and Valentin is a political prisoner. To escape reality Luis invents romantic movies, while Valentin tries to keep his mind on the situation he's in. During the time they spend together, the two men come to understand and respect one another. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Agita Productions, Inc.

Country:

Brazil | USA

Language:

English | French | Portuguese | German

Release Date:

26 July 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El beso de la mujer araña See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$55,962, 27 July 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$17,037,728
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Principal photography took place between October 1983 and March 1984. The schedule was initially set for 60 days, but interiors took so much longer to shoot than planned, it ended up taking more than 100 days. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Luis Molina: She's... well, she's something a little strange. That's what she noticed, that she's not a woman like all the others. She seems all wrapped up in herself. Lost in a world she carries deep inside her.
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Connections

Referenced in Married with Children: Kiss of the Coffee Woman (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Heard during one of the scenes of Molina's story
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
This Weird Movie Will Catch You in Its Web
8 April 2008 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

A bizarre, evocative film which seems strange even now -- I can't imagine what audiences made of it in 1985.

William Hurt and Raul Julia play cell mates, one gay, the other straight, rotting away in a Latin American prison under the iron thumb of a tyrannical dictatorship. At first, Julia's Latin machismo makes him repelled by Hurt's flamboyant femininity, but the two gradually bond, thrown together as they are, and discover a kind of love that transcends conventions about love and sex and that can probably only exist between two people surviving in extreme conditions.

Hurt, already known as a strapping leading man at the time, took quite a risk playing this fey character, especially at a time when movies still weren't comfortable with mainstream portrayals of gays, but his risk payed off -- he won that year's Best Actor Academy Award and became just about the hottest actor in town for a few years there in the mid-80s. Julia has a much less showy role, but the success of the film is dependent upon the strength of both male leads, and he delivers. Sonia Braga plays the eponymous spider woman, a dream figure cobbled together by both men from their imaginations and memories of old movies.

This film is a big downer, but if you enjoy well-acted, well-written stories, then the depressing ending is worth it.

Grade: A


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