Saturday, May 15, 2010
Review: Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
I don't really know what I expected from this movie to tell the truth. I only wanted to watch it because William Hurt won Best Actor for it. I probably wanted to see a good Oscar-winning movie.
Kiss of the Spider Woman is the story of two prisoners, Luis, a gay shop window decorator (William Hurt) and Valentin (Raul Julia), who's in jail for political reasons. Luis tells the story of a movie he saw a long time ago and he goes into the details very much, so in the beginning he just annoys Valentin. However, soon some strange connection is born between them and Luis falls in love with Valentin.
Nowadays, this movie is considered to be dated and old-fashioned and in a way I agree, but I also must mention the great parts of this movie. And first of all the amazing performances of the two leading man, William Hurt and Raul Julia, the scenes they share are simply unforgettable and also very credible. Their dialogues and reactions are so real, which is ironic as this movie in itself is far from being realistic.
William Hurt is well-known for his strong screen presence and this movie is no exceptions. He always commands the scene without any overacting or shouting. He doesn't go over-the-top with the mannerisms of Luis and he does not really show his emotions in real, so actually you never really know if he betrayed Valentin. So I'm saying this was a well-deserved Oscar.
Raul Julia is nearly equally brilliant in a less baity role. I only know him from the movie version of The Addams Family, but to tell the truth he really could have received an Oscar nomination for this performance. I'm not really sure though if he was the main character.
It's an interesting thing that originally Burt Lancaster and Richard Gere would have played these roles, but actually I'm very glad that they did not have money for them, even though it would have been interesting to see which type of his acting Lancaster would have used, the annoying one (e.g. The Rose Tatoo or the beginning of Elmer Gantry) or the brilliant one (e.g. The Leopard Gaaaaah! or Atlantic City).
Hector Babenco's directing was very accurate and probably even deserving of a nomination and I loved how he handled the scenes of the movie Luis is talking about. They seemed like as if Luis dreamed them (or Valentin), plus the use of symbols was very clever and appropriate (SPOILER e.g. Luis as Jesus, when he told his friend to take care of his mother and his sacrifice in the end, in front of the church). Still, something was missing from the movie's screenplay and the story itself, that's why that in the end I felt a bit unsatisfied.
Anyway, I can recommend you this movie because of the two brilliant lead performers and the one-of-a-kind chemistry between them. It's true that this movie is a bit dated.
Grade: 7.5/10 A good one, worth watching once.
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Hector Babenco); Best Actor (Hurt WON); Best Adapted Screenplay
My wins: Hurt for Best Actor and I would give a nom to Julia.