Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

Written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, !Atame! (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!) is the story of a troubled man released from a psychiatric hospital who kidnaps an actress in the hopes that he would fall in love with her. The film is an exploration into the world of obsession as it plays into the world of Stockholm Syndrome with some dark humor and revelations about these events. Starring Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril, Francisco Rabal, Loles Leon, Julietta Serrano, Maria Barranco, Rossy de Palma, Lola Cardona, Francisco Rabal, and Francisca Caballero. !Atame! is a strange but thrilling film from Pedro Almodovar.

The film explores the strange relationship between a troubled man who kidnaps a B-movie actress in the hopes that he would fall in love with her. It’s a film that explores the concept of Stockholm Syndrome where the victim would fall for its kidnapper as Pedro Almodovar infuses the story with some dark humor as well as revelations about humanity. Especially as this young man in Ricky (Antonio Banderas) has just been released from a psychiatrist hospital where he hopes to meet the actress Marina (Victoria Abril) as the two had met a year before at a nightclub where a one-night stand happen. Unfortunately, Marina doesn’t remember as she is a recovering drug addict who used to do porn films as she had become the obsession of her aging director Maximo Espejo (Francisco Rabal) who is helming his final film.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t have much of a plot as Almodovar focuses more on motivations and what is happening in this kidnapping scenario where there’s some obvious schematics that will happen. Yet, Almodovar makes it so much more as Ricky is a man driven by loneliness and abandon as he thinks Marina can give him some hope. Marina is a woman still recovering from her own addiction as a toothache becomes part of her problems as well as the advances of her director who is confined in a wheelchair because of a stroke. Once Ricky gets into Marina’s apartment and takes her as his hostage, he takes his time to win her over though it becomes a struggle at first. Adding to the complications is the fact that Marina has been asked by a neighbor to water his plants as her sister Lola (Loles Leon) would end up doing as she becomes frustrated working as an assistant director to Espejo.

Almodovar’s direction is truly mesmerizing in the way he doesn’t just create this unique mix of suspense, black comedy, and romance but also a film where it plays into the possibility into whether this woman will fall for her kidnapper. Some of the humor is very offbeat where it can be very quirky at times but also there’s some darker moments where it adds to this mix of discomfort yet it is also oddly funny. Almodovar’s direction is truly wondrous in the way he creates compositions from his approach to close-ups and using wide lenses to capture the beauty of a film set or an apartment. There’s also an element of artistry in the way Almodovar would put his actors into a frame or how he would create sexual images that play into the desires of Ricky and Marina. The sense of shock value is also prevalent in how far Ricky will go where he would also encounter seedy people to get what he wants. There is also an element of desire since Marina is this object of desire for men as she is trying to figure out what she wants and what Ricky will offer her. Overall, Almodovar creates a very sensational yet provocative film about a strange relationship between a woman and her kidnapper.

Cinematographer Jose Luis Alcine does brilliant work with the film‘s ravishing cinematography from not just the nighttime exteriors and interiors of the locations and sets but also in the way some of the rooms are lit to capture the gorgeous colors of the apartments and sets. Editor Jose Salcedo does fantastic work with the editing with its stylistic approach to jump-cuts and rhythmic cuts as it plays to the air of suspense and drama that occurs in the film. Production designer Esther Garcia, with set decorator Pepon Sigler and art director Ferran Sanchez, does amazing work with the set design from the gorgeous apartment of Marina‘s neighbor to the some of the sets in the film that she is making.

Costume designer Jose Maria de Cossio does excellent work with costumes where it adds to the film‘s colorful look from the dresses some of the women wear to the shirts and jeans that Ricky wears. The sound work of Ricardo Steinberg is terrific for the way it adds to the suspense and drama in how sparse it is at times while going for more ominous effects in some of the exterior scenes. The film’s music by Ennio Morricone is just phenomenal where Morricone does take some cues from Bernard Herrmann in terms of its eerie orchestral arrangements for the suspense while adding his own operatic touches to some of the music to play into the romance and drama as it’s one of his finest works. The film’s soundtrack features a mixture of boleros and pop songs that are played in the film to showcase the two worlds coming together for Ricky.

The film’s cast includes some noteworthy small performances from Francisca Caballero as Marina’s mother, Lola Cardona as the psychiatric hospital director who had a close relationship with Ricky, Maria Barranco as a doctor friend of Marina whom Ricky would meet to get some prescriptions, and Rossy de Palma in a fantastic role as a drug dealer who rides a Vespa who doesn’t like to be fucked with. Julietta Serrano is excellent in a small yet crucial role as Espejo’s wife who would watch her husband seeking to regain his sex drive while being the one person who is willing to listen to Lola as she is aware of her husband’s obsessions. Francisco Rabal is amazing as Maximo Espejo as this director trying to make his final film as he desires Marina while also flirting with Lola despite the fact that he’s in a wheelchair. Loles Leon is great as Marina’s sister Lola as she tries to deal with Espejo’s obsession and antics while wondering where Marina is as it’s a role that adds a lot of humor to the film.

Victoria Abril is brilliant as Marina as this B-movie actress who becomes a kidnapping victim as she deals with her own situation while is also someone who is troubled by her own recovery from drugs and sexual satisfaction. Antonio Banderas is remarkable as Ricky as this troubled 23-year old who had just been released from a psychiatric hospital as he hopes to get Marina to fall in love with. Banderas and Abril have this very unique chemistry in the way they deal with each other as Banderas brings some humor to the role with Abril being a bit more aggressive as they are major highlights of the film.

!Atame! is a spectacular and exhilarating film from Pedro Almodovar. Armed with a great cast led by Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril along with beautiful cinematography and art direction as well as Ennio Morricone’s sublime score. The film is definitely one of Almodovar’s finest films as well as his most provocative in the way it explores kidnapping and the concept of Stockholm Syndrome. In the end, !Atame! is a tremendously wild and vivacious film from Pedro Almodovar.

Pedro Almodovar Films: Pepi, Luci, Bom - Labyrinth of Passion - Dark Habits - What Have I Done to Deserve This? - Matador - Law of Desire - Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - High Heels - Kika - The Flower of My Secret - Live Flesh - All About My Mother - Talk to Her - Bad Education - Volver - Broken Embraces - The Skin I Live In - I'm So Excited! - Julieta - Pain & Glory - (The Human Voice (2020 short film)) - (Parallel Mothers)

The Auteurs #37: Pedro Almodovar Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2014


Brittani Burnham said...

Nice review! I've heard the title of this movie before, but I never really knew what it was about.

thevoid99 said...

Well, if you like Pedro Almodovar. This is one of his essential films as it's now available on DVD/Blu-Ray from the Criterion Collection. It's really fucked up but dammit, it's so fucking good.