Monday, July 18, 2011

730. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

Running Time: 119 minutes
Directed By: Hector Babenco
Written By: Leonard Schrader, from the novel Beijo da Mulher Aranha by Manuel Puig
Main Cast: William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga, Jose Lewgoy, Milton Goncalves


I didn't intend for the finale to this group of 100 films to be a three film salute to William Hurt, but that's the way this bundle will end. My wife watched "Kiss of the Spider Woman" today and realizing it was in the book, I decided to join her and I'm glad I did.

Luis Molina (Hurt) and Valentin Arregui (Julia) are two very different types of men, who are sharing a prison cell together in Brazil. Luis Molina is a homosexual man, imprisoned for "corrupting a minor" and Valentin is a political prisoner. Molina is a very kind man and wants nothing more than to pass the time as timidly as possible with Valentin. Molina enjoys recounting an old movie that he once saw, years prior, to Valentin and as long as he doesn't go into detail about food or women, Valentin allows Molina to tell his stories. However, Valentin doesn't realize that Molina is actually spying on Valentin for the warden. The warden has cut a deal with Molina for an early release for any information that Molina can provide regarding Valentin's revolutionary group. Things get even more complicated when Molina falls in love with Valentin and Valentin reciprocates the affection. Will Molina sell out his new found friend and lover or will he stay true to his cell mate?


I wasn't really expecting much out of this film, to be honest with you. In reading the title, one might get the impression that "Kiss of the Spider Woman" is a sci-fi movie. In reading a synopsis on Netflix, one might get the idea that "Kiss of the Spider Woman" is a political drama. Really it's neither of those things. What "Kiss of the Spider Woman" was for me, was a movie that was first of all, very dialogue driven. It was also a movie about friendship and love in the unlikeliest of places, betrayal and loyalty. It was a fantastic bit of film making, where William Hurt put on an outstanding performance and reminded me why I like him so much. Back in the day, I was a huge William Hurt fan, but this movie always escaped me and it's a real shame. The best parts of the film for me were the scenes where the dialogue flowed between Molina and Valentin. I couldn't really get lost in Molina's retelling of the old movie and for me, those parts were simply drudge as I waited to get back to the real movie.

The dialogue eventually gets placed on the back burner and some intriguing plot elements are sprinkled in and it all plays out wonderfully. In the end, I liked how they never really made it clear whether or not Molina was betraying his friend or staying loyal to him. Was he trying to get followed by the agents or was he genuinely trying to lose them? I'd like to think that Molina stayed true to his friend and his lover. William Hurt made this picture for me and it was, in a way, awkward to see William Hurt playing a homosexual man, but he did it brilliantly. Raul Julia was very good too and who knew that the guy from "The Addams Family" had such good acting chops.

RATING: 8.5/10 Aaaaand the making of the 3rd TOP 20 list just got a little bit harder. And we still have two William Hurt movies to go.


July 17, 2011 11:21pm

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