An unbalanced but alluring former mental patient takes a porn star prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to marry him.An unbalanced but alluring former mental patient takes a porn star prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to marry him.An unbalanced but alluring former mental patient takes a porn star prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to marry him.
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.
- Jan 31, 2007