“Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” (1990)

9Pedro Almodovar never met a sexual taboo he didn’t want to bust, and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” sees the director get his kink on in satisfying fashion, even if the film doesn’t rank among his best. A comic precursor to the much-later “The Skin I Live In,” the film marked the end of a chapter for Almodóvar; he fell out with muse Carmen Maura in pre-production, after telling her she was too old for the female lead (they wouldn’t work together until they reconciled for “Volver”), and it marked his last collaboration for two decades with Antonio Banderas, who went to Hollywood after the film’s success. As for ‘Tie Me Up!,’ it’s difficult; essentially a sweet romantic comedy, but one where the obsessive behavior often seen in the genre is taken to new extremes, with Banderas’ mental patient kidnapping a porn-actress-turned-horror-starlet (Victoria Abril), with whom he once slept with, and who he keeps tied to her bed, eventually with her consent. There are troubling aspects —the film was derided by feminists on release— but the film’s sweetness, provided by vulnerable, big-hearted turns by Banderas, Abril and Loles Léon, makes it work. The film’s also earned its place in cinema history for reasons beyond its quality: Miramax sued the MPAA after the film was given an X rating, kicking off a debate that would eventually lead to the creation of the NC-17 rating.

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