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>
Just days before principal photography began on the movie, William Hurt told Hector Babenco, "You've been very patient, and I have a surprise for you." On the first day of shooting, there was Molina, just as the director had hoped. See more »
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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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.
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