Labyrinth of Passion

Labyrinth of Passion, Almodóvar’s delirious second feature, out-screws just about every screwball comedy that came before it. The perversely overstuffed plot follows nymphomaniac punk singer Sexilia, whose love affair with a disguised gay son of a Middle Eastern emperor is threatened by a group of terrorists led by a former lover (Antonio Banderas, in his first role) and haunted by repressed childhood traumas. Veering gleefully off-course at every turn, the narrative often disappears underneath surreal subplots and inflammatory set-pieces (including a sneering disco-punk musical number sung by the director himself), recalling the dirty-minded digressions of an earlier Spanish provocateur, Luis Buñuel. Like his subversive predecessor, Almodóvar presents society as a complex maze of sexual dysfunction, but Labyrinth isn’t some arthouse brain-teaser: it’s a bratty, coked-up, incestuous, orgiastic, scatological romantic comedy about the transformative power of true love.

Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 1982, HDCAM, 100 min.

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