Based on Manuel Puig's novel of the same name, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN treats its unusual premise with an often lyrical grace. In a South American country, Luis Molina, a flamboyant gay man jailed for taking liberties with a minor, shares a cell with Valentin Arregui (Julia), a political
prisoner. Though the revolutionary initially dislikes Luis, he is gradually drawn in by the latter's retelling of films, including a Nazi propaganda piece about a cabaret singer, and a B picture featuring the "Spider Woman" (both "starring" Braga).
The two men develop a deep friendship wherein Luis learns the importance of political convictions and Valentin discovers the power of fantasy. He becomes able to withstand the tortures he endures by dreaming of his lover outside (Braga again). Luis falls in love with his cellmate and, shortly
before Luis's release, Valentin agree to share a night of lovemaking with his smitten friend. Luis soon returns the favor by getting involved in Valentin's dangerous political efforts on the outside.
Hurt does a fine job with this difficult role, even if a self-conscious quality not entirely befitting the character does creep in; he seems to want to go out of his way to make it a showy performance, but he deserves credit for pursuing the challenge. Julia, while admittedly on much safer ground,
really gives the performance to watch, however. His tenderness is as compelling as his rage, and he never strikes a false note. The impact of the entire film rests on the relationship these actors construct, and both Hurt and Julia succeed brilliantly.
Braga does a good job differentiating among her essentially thankless roles, but she's not entirely into the camp spirit of the movie sequences. Babenco's fine direction is a masterwork of detailed camera choreography, and the films-within-a-film episodes aptly complement the prisoners's
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- Released: 1985
- Rating: R
- Review: Based on Manuel Puig's novel of the same name, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN treats its unusual premise with an often lyrical grace. In a South American country, Luis Molina, a flamboyant gay man jailed for taking liberties with a minor, shares a cell with Vale… (more)