English Title: Law of Desire
Original Title: La ley del deseo
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Director/Wrier: Pedro Almodóvar
Cinematography: Ángel Luis Fernández
Fernando Guillén Cuervo
Rossy de Palma
It could be a perfect double bill with Almodovar’s own BAD EDUCATION (2004), LAW OF DESIRE is his seventh feature film and has a plucky vein of a forthright attitude towards homosexuality and challenges an unconventional yarn of a besotted maniac-suitor’s (Banderas) incorrigible fixation of our protagonist, a successful film director Pablo (Poncela), that kind of creepy yet deeply-devoting ardor could instantaneously scare away the recipient and devour one’s own, but not like other similar-themed films tackles on a thriller angle, this film has (unexpectedly) romanticized the purified affection as a rarefied empathy, and succumbs to its self-immolated culmination out of the left field.
Meanwhile, the film also painstakingly limns the life of Pablo’s sister Tina (Maura), a ham actress, whose outré past will be divulged later in the film to a shocking value with comical casualness thanks to an amnesiac twist, and she carries a paralleled weight which includes a maternal bond with her niece Ada (Velasco).
From what one may expect from Almodovar, the film is less tawdry or garish with its color element, still an over-par indulgence though, LAW OF DESIRE is cluttered with saccharine love letters, explicit homoerotic scenes, tackling with touchy issues like possessiveness, promiscuity, incest, transsexual, drug abuse and a murder case, with innuendos about priesthood sex scandal, also interpolating a monologue play about a distressed woman named Laura P (starts and ends with a melancholic delivery of “NE ME QUITTE PAS”). It is a fairly self-boosting piece of work, Almodovar always know how to infuse comedic occurrence into his well-drafted plot, even against a harrowing backbone.
As Almodovar’s early muse, Maura owns her dominance of the film, the water-spurting on a hot summer night, the rendition of Laura P, the anger and indignity of exposing her veiled past and a face-to-face confession, magnificently dazzling and plain impressive. His male muse, Banderas, has a strapping figure and oozes all the fervor for the man of his life, gritty and arresting. By comparison, leading man Poncela may recede under the guise of a so-so performance, his dearth of personal charisma might not live up to sustain the story in a plausible manner, but his queer bearing is well-presented here. As usual, there are distinctive side characters galore, Velasco proves herself as a blossoming talent and Bibiana Fernández has a short but intensive spell as her negligent mother.
Speaking for myself, Almodovor’s canon is always a safe haven, and this one has all his trappings all over the place, and it is male-centered, more self-referential in a way, supposedly more intriguing on this ground.