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
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
(as Miriam Pires)
Nuno Leal Maia
(as Denise Dummont)
Leader of Resistance
(as Antonio Petrin)
Agita Productions, Inc. |
Release Date: 26 July 1985
Filming Locations: Praça da Sé, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Opening Weekend: $55,962
(27 July 1985)
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.
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.
"Film within a film" really works
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
This storytelling tactic works brilliantly, in my opinion. Kiss of the
Spider Woman is indeed original, quirky, and a must-see.