more trailers Kiss of the Spider Woman

Luis Molina and Valentin Arregui are cell mates in a South American prison. Luis, a homosexual, is found guilty of immoral behaviour and Valentin is a political prisoner...

Release Year: 1985

Rating: 7.4/10 (6,456 voted)

Critic's Score: 80/100

Director: Hector Babenco

Stars: William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga

Luis Molina and Valentin Arregui are cell mates in a South American prison. Luis, a homosexual, is found guilty of immoral behaviour and Valentin is a political prisoner. To escape reality Luis invents romantic movies, while Valentin tries to keep his mind on the situation he's in. During the time they spend together, the two men come to understand and respect one another.

Writers: Manuel Puig, Leonard Schrader

William Hurt - Luis Molina
Raul Julia - Valentin Arregui
Sonia Braga - Leni Lamaison / Marta / Spider Woman
José Lewgoy - Warden
Milton Gonçalves - Secret Policeman
Míriam Pires - Mother (as Miriam Pires)
Nuno Leal Maia - Gabriel
Fernando Torres - Americo
Patricio Bisso - Greta
Herson Capri - Werner
Denise Dumont - Michele (as Denise Dummont)
Nildo Parente - Leader of Resistance
Antônio Petrin - Clubfoot (as Antonio Petrin)
Wilson Grey - Flunky
Miguel Falabella - Lieutenant


Official Website: Agita Productions, Inc. |

Release Date: 26 July 1985

Filming Locations: Praça da Sé, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Opening Weekend: $55,962 (USA) (27 July 1985) (1 Screen)

Gross: $17,037,728 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Reportedly, William Hurt and Raul Julia worked for nothing but the payment for their air tickets and hotel bills in Brazil, where the film was shot.

[first lines]
Luis Molina: She's... well, she's something a little strange. That's what she noticed, that she's not a woman like all the others. She seems all wrapped up in herself. Lost in a world she carries deep inside her.

User Review

"Film within a film" really works

Rating: 9/10

Reading the other reviews, I see that homophobes have been duly warned about this movie, so I won't say anything about the relationship between the two men beyond that it is complex and beautiful.

What interests me more for the purposes of this little blurb is that no one has commented on how the "film within a film" (much like the "play within a play" in Hamlet) reflects the actual events unfolding in the prison cell. Molina (William Hurt) is ostensibly retelling his favorite film to entertain Valentin (Raul Julia) and make the time pass more quickly, but he himself admits that he "embroiders" the story to make it more real. So who is to say if this film exists except in Molina's mind, and if it does, what really transpired in the film? The story about the French woman who is in love with a German officer during World War II, and must decide whether or not to betray him, is an obvious parallel to Molina's decision to betray Valentin or not. Even Molina says that he most identifies with Leni La Maison (Sonia Braga) in this film of his, and it's not just because he is a drag queen. It's because he has to choose between the man he loves and "patriotism" (in his case, represented by the police/government as well as his ailing mother).

This storytelling tactic works brilliantly, in my opinion. Kiss of the Spider Woman is indeed original, quirky, and a must-see.