Quick recap: A man imprisoned for homosexuality is locked up with a political prisoner. The two develop a very deep bond despite horrible conditions. Think of it like the Odd Couple except not funny and someone dies. Cheers!
Fun(?) fact: Sônia Braga, who played several roles in the ‘film within a film’ part of the movie, spoke no English at the time. Instead, she memorized her lines phonetically.
My thoughts: It’s been difficult to decide on a direction for this movie because it is all over the place. It’s sweet at times, painfully sad, funny and also a mystery? But in the end, it just didn’t work for me. I’ll start by saying that I loved William Hurt and his performance is the reason I’m giving this film any points at all. The way he tells the ‘film within a film’ plot was magical and well worth sitting through the rest of this pile.
I think the many directions this movie takes is why I’m so hesitant to embrace it. If it had stayed a story about a gay man falling for his prisoner roommate who is very masculine, that would be fine. If it had just been about an unfair justice system and regime, that also would’ve worked. Hell, if it was just about William Hurt’s character Luis actually being an informant, that would also be compelling film. But all of these things plus two movies within this movie? There’s just too much to focus on. Luis himself is a mess so I get it to some degree. And I enjoyed not knowing what would happen next because of that. It felt more realistic to not predict what Luis would do after he got out of prison. At the end of the movie, however, I still hadn’t decided on how I felt about his character. Was he ever in love with Valentin or was it all an act so he could be released early? I guess if you look at the ‘film within a films’ it would seem as if he really did fall in love and saw himself as a sort of martyr. That would also explain the ending, which I won’t spoil for once.
I loved the way the scenes from the past were weaved in with the present, as well as the silent movie throughout the various scenes. It all made Kiss of the Spider Woman compelling to watch, even if the end wasn’t satisfying.
Final review: 2/5
Up next: Pierrot le Fou