The Law of Desire

 

Ladymol's Review

Slightly dated and rather theatrical, this is nevertheless an excellent movie if youíre looking for good, strong gay content. Itís probably best known for Antonio Banderasís performance as the young gay lover of Pedro, a film director. Apparently, Tom Hanks refused to kiss Antonio in the film Philadelphia in case it ruined his image for future films. Antonio is penetrated on screen in this movie and itís clearly not hurt his career at all. Itís enormously encouraging to see that straight actors can play gay roles with having their careers ruined.

Pablo is a film and theatre director who loves a gorgeous young man called Juan. Juan loves him, but only as a friend and mentor and leaves to allow Pablo to find someone new. Pablo types out loving letters, sends them to Juan to sign and send back to him. Itís quite touching to see the joy he gets from receiving and reading his own letters.

One day Antonio comes into Pabloís life. He says heís straight, but allows Pablo to seduce him. Gradually the love turns to obsession, which I guess is what Almodůvar is saying is the ultimate law of desire.

As every with European movies, you see more nudity and have stronger scenes than would be allowed here. There are some very hot scenes and some wonderful, intense kissing throughout. It does look very dated now, which is amusing as itís only set in the 1980s (well, it amused me as that was ďmyĒ era!). The main actor doesnít quite convince me that heíd have everyone falling over him as he does.

It wouldnít work for me without the gay content, but thatís certainly intense enough to carry it. Well worth watching.


Cerisaye's Review

Middle-aged film director, Pablo, loves beautiful boy, Juan, whoís straight and unable to have proper sex with a man.† Juan loves Pablo but doesnít desire him.† He goes to the coast to work and sort out how he feels.†

Pablo, heartbroken, self-anaesthetises with cocaine.† There are plenty of fans willing to sleep with him, but casual sex isnít enough.† Heís at the age when he wants to settle down with a steady lover companion.

Vivacious Tina is Pabloís sister, best friend & confidante, an ageing actress.† But she has her own troubled history, a family secret, that affects how she feels about men.† She looks after young Ada, daughter of a friend who doesnít have time for her† Ada prays for a miracle to mend Tinaís broken heart after her latest failed romance..

Sexy Antonio hangs around Pabloís cinema world.† One night he goes home with Pablo, even though he says he doesnít have sex with men.† Asks Pablo to teach him.† Antonio sets out to take care of Pablo.† To make him love him.† Antonio wants to possess Pablo, like the shirt he buys, identical to Pabloís.† His love is infatuation, obliteration of self.

But Pablo still wants Juan.† We donít control love and desire.† With Antonio, itís just sex, a substitute for unobtainable Juan.

Despite Pabloís warning he canít love him, Antonio pursues him obsessively.† Pablo writes emotional letters to Juan, then replies to them and asks Juan to sign and send them back.† We donít know where this is all going, but it seems light-hearted fun verging on farce.†† Pablo with his comb-over hair is no sex God.† What does Antonio (who is) see in him?

Antonio reads the letters then goes to see Juan at the beach bar where heís working.† Suddenly the love triangle becomes dangerous.†

Love, lust, desireÖlies, obsession and jealousyÖa volatile mix, with inevitable, tragic consequences.†

A grizzled older cop has to make sense of the mess, with the help of a handsome but homophobic youngster.†††

This is very black comedy, a tragic, erotic thriller.† It unfolds slowly, drawing us into a world of lonely souls.† Carmen Maura is excellent as Tina and a very young Antonio Banderas handles the difficult role of Antonio the obsessive lover effectively, making the most of his part, so I felt sympathy for him more than stupid Pablo.† He makes homoerotic movies (we see a clip from one as the film opens) but real life isnít scripted or neat, something he doesnít appear to understand.†

I enjoyed the film.† The characters are human:† unpredictable, passionate, capable of† tenderness or cruelty.† The gay content is background not a big issue.† Gay characters with strengths & weaknesses, good and bad, like anyone else.† It was made in 1987 but doesnít seem dated, hairstyles apart.† Thereís a 60s feel.† With a moody soundtrack the movie celebrates life and love in all its manifestations.† Worth watching for Antonio Banderas alone, even though, sadly, he always keeps his briefs on.† Spanish with English subtitles.† Watchable.