“The Law of Desire” (La ley del deseo)
Pedro Almodovar’s masterpiece “The Law of Desire” is finally available on DVD and it is a treasure. The film is the story of Pablo and Tina who have extremely complicated sexual lives. Pablo is a writer and film/stage director who is gay and in love with Juan, a young man who does not return his affections. Pablo’s brother, Tina, is a transsexual who is angry with men, raising Ada and trying to become an actress. Pablo meets and begins an affair with Antonio, a guy who becomes jealous of Pablo’s feelings for Juan and violence occurs with Pablo losing his memory for a while. Here things get complicated as when Pablo regains his memory he finds that Antonio is now with Tina and he is forced to face him and his own desire.
The film is quite a moving and sensitive meditation on desire whether it be purely physical or love. All the characters seek it and the movie raises the question as to what it is worth. We see that love is very serious and is worth dying for. Antonio tries to teach Pablo the value of love.
This is one of Almodovar’s early films and it is still regarded as one of his best. It brings together comedy, drama and tragedy and also incorporates a good deal of explicit gay sex and male nudity without being exploitive. The acting is good and surprising enough is that the weakest performance comes from Antonio Banderas as Antonio. The direction is flawless and visually the film is a total feast for the eyes. Almodovar can make everything in his films look beautiful.
Banderas plays a straight psychopath who is prepared to become gay in order to further his career with Pablo (Eusebio Poncela). Tina (Carmen Maura) is the trans sibling who freely dispenses cocaine to hospital patients. The film also demonizes the Catholic Church and the celibacy of priests. Stylish and full of eccentricities, the film is “in your face” in the way it urges seediness.
This is a film that must be seen if for no other reason then that it helped to usher in the new queer cinema.