Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Law of Desire

This is certainly the turning point in Almodovar's career. Prior to Law of Desire, Almodovar was working on the kinks on his favorite themes: love, sexuality, obsession, and family. In Law of Desire, Almodovar combines all of his themes into one film and manages to create the greatest film in his career (up to the time this film was created). Almodovar follows this film up with his biggest success, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Sadly, he follows these two hits with two weaker films (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and High Heels).

Carmen Maura continues her run as the great actress of an Almodovar film. Sadly, she'll only appear in one more (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) before taking a long break until her appearance as the mother in Volver. In Law of Desire, Maura isn't quite playing a woman. In this role, she plays a transsexual. And she does it so well. One might think a woman playing a man turned woman should be a very easy job. But, think about it... one needs to almost play up the femininity, I would think. To really make sure to express that womanly quality that was felt beneath the male she was born as.

The film follows a writer, of films and plays, who is in love with a man who only shows him a little interest. The writer finds himself the obsession of Antonio Banderas' character because Banderas is seeking celebrity through film. Banderas' character is not homosexual. One could argue he isn't even bisexual. This adds a very interesting layer to the sexuality of the film. In this role, Banderas' is almost repeating the character he played in Matador. Banderas is playing awkward, innocent, and obsessive.

In this film, we see Almodovar start to focus on the creative process and the controlling nature of the artist. This theme would feature prominately in his later films on a much larger scale (one might even suggest more successful scale). It is interesting the way the writer functions and dysfuntions. Even more interesting the way those around him seem to encourage this arrogance and distance. As if to say the creative type can't be expected to be well behaved.

As with most Almodovar films, the melodrama is through the roof. This result in a fairly serious film slowly turning a little comical towards the end. As a whole, the film works very well. The humor doesn't really distract from the pain of the film. It helps to balance out the drama.

Law of Desire is definately a stepping stone for All About My Mother, Talk to Her, and Bad Education. Law of Desire does not reach the same heights as those films, but it is certainly the sign of things to come.


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