Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Spain, 1990. El Deseo. Story and Screenplay by Pedro Almodovar. Cinematography by Jose Luis Alcaine. Produced by Enrique Posner. Music by Ennio Morricone. Production Design by Esther García. Costume Design by Jose Maria de Cossio. Film Editing by José Salcedo. Podcast: My Criterions.
Pedro Almodovar really pulls out all the stops for this romantic comedy. Antonio Banderas (who has never been more attractive, before or since) plays a recently released mental patient who kidnaps a former porn star recently gone legit (Victoria Abril) and tells her that he’s been dreaming of her for years. He holds her hostage in her apartment, ties her up and announces that they will get married and have a wonderful life together full of lots of babies. The crazy part is, the longer they stay together, the more she finds herself growing fond of him. Many audience members have been offended by how deeply politically incorrect the setup is, but that’s actually what makes it so good; it doesn’t have the usual amount of depth that Almodovar’s other films do, but it does feature his shrewd understanding of human nature. The characters are so distinctly drawn that it is impossible to accuse him of making generalizations of any group for the way the story turns out. What’s probably most famous about it, however, is that it received an NC-17 rating for its raunchy, extended sex scene and this formed the basis of most of its publicity. Featuring the great director’s trademark visual style of rich, joyous colours, this film also gives Loles León the best supporting role she’s ever had in an Almodovar film as Abril’s concerned, chatty sister.