Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Kiss Of The Spider Woman

You may have noticed that this post is later than usual, but that's because I didn't see that many great movies this week. Today, I finally found something that I felt was worthy of a review. That film is "Kiss of the Spider Woman", a 1985 film directed by Hector Babenco. The film focuses on Luis Molina, a gay prisoner who spends his days recounting the story of his favourite romantic film to his cellmate Valentin Arregui, in an effort to provide a form of escapism. Molina is imprisoned for immoral sexual behaviour, while Arregui is a political prisoner. They are incarcerated in a South American prison and suffer through the unpleasant conditions that you would expect.
It's really quite a straightforward story, but it's infused with some artful flourishes that keep it constantly captivating. William Hurt gives an outstanding performance as Molina, carrying the film with his finely tuned characterization and winsome storytelling. As he narrates, his "Nazi romance" film is visually depicted, adding a nice subplot to the proceedings. It grabs Arregui's attention and it should certainly attract the viewer's as well. We never really get the relevance of this story, but that's the beauty of this film. There is a lot of vagueness in the plot, forcing you to read between the lines.
Despite this, the film is grounded in some clear themes of kindness, love, friendship and loyalty. As the 2 men endure their punishment, they develop a strong bond that felt very genuine. It's shows us how people can still maintain their humanity even in the most unfavorable situations.
On the surface, the story is just another prison tale of male bonding, but somewhere around the halfway mark, the film adds another layer to the its machinations. A political element is added that isn't telegraphed at all. An intelligent script reveals itself as the plot unfolds and this is definitely one of those finely crafted screenplays. The film gradually adds impressive depth to its deceptively slight narrative, commanding your attention and it never lets go. In the end, you're left with questions you never even imagined this little film would pose. Much like its title, "Kiss of the Spider Woman" is a mysterious, unique film that is befuddling and mesmerizing in equal measure.


  1. William Hurt was on such a roll back in the 80s and this is probably his best (but both gentlemen gave such profound performances). The journey of KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN from book to movie to musical is so interesting (the book is such a "anti-novel" piece). The story is heavy-handed, maybe, but that doesn't diminish the power.

  2. Hurt and Julia were amazing in this movie and it's only a shame that it's barely remembered anymore. Good flick that I think is more underrated than anything else. Good review bud.

    1. It's definitely a film that hardly anyone knows about. I'm glad it showed up on my Netflix or I would probably never have found it.

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