Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

This followup to the international success of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown finds Ricky (Antonio Banderas) destructively infatuated with sub-par porno actress and former junkie Marina (Victoria Abril) after his release from a mental institution. Oscillating between unhinged and utterly charming–sometimes within the same scene–Banderas’ pathetic yet charismatic performance keeps the tone lighter than should be humanely possible, especially for the depiction of a relationship simply reeking of dysfunction. Popping primary colors inhabit the fashions and the apartments of this world, belying both the agony–and eventually, underscoring the ecstasy–of a Stockholm syndrome-induced romance. Slapped with an X-rating from the MPAA upon its controversial stateside release for a certain bathtub scene that suggests (gasp!) women might masturbate, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was one of a handful of films that proved instrumental in the argument for the NC-17 rating to be wedged between the meaningless R and the hardcore X. So what is the line between admiring and leering? Almodóvar pretends he doesn’t know the answer–and fools us, if only momentarily, into believing we might not, either.

Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 1989, 35mm, 101 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!