Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Victoria Abril in Pedro Almodóvar's "Átame!" [1990 Spain]

It's about time this little gem went into the blog - Pedro Almodóvar made this much misunderstood black comedy "Átame!" [Eng. Title: Tie me Up! Tie me Down!] as a scathing attack on the concept of marriage and conventional love. While outwardly it may appear as a 'romantic' albeit twisted comedy, the irony will not be lost for those looking at it from the protagonists' perspective.

Delinquent Ricky is released from asylum after the authorities decide it is now okay for him to re-enter society. And Ricky heads straight to the film studios where Marina Osorio is shooting a 'mainstream' film with a veteran director. He had been obsessing over her for the past year, since a one-night stand with her at a club - he had escaped from the asylum at the time for a night's fun. He wants Marina to love him as much as he, get married, and start a family - to live a "normal" life as he puts it.

When Marina spurns his overtures - she wouldn't even give him a second look - he breaks into her apartment and kidnaps her. His thinking - if she gets to spend time with him, she will get to know him better, and certainly fall in love. Bad boy Ricky - but we soon realise he is not the only one with issues. Former porn actress Marina is also desperately trying to kick her drug habit - she'd just got a lucky break to work on a non-porn film because the wheelchair-bound director (wonder if Almodóvar was thinking of Antonioni when he wrote the screenplay!) is also her fan - damaged people both, the victim and the perpetrator. He gags and ties Marina up every time he needs to leave the apartment - mostly to buy drugs for her 'toothache'. Ricky doesn't take sexual advantage of her situation, but Marina nevertheless despises him and tries to escape on a few occasions, unsuccessfully. But one day when he returns bleeding after being robbed and beaten, she pities his misfortune, for it was on her account that he went out looking for drugs. And she falls in love..!

One can easily look at Marina's change of heart as a symptom of her discovering that someone does indeed care about her in a true sense, or even as a case of Stockholm Syndrome. But Almodóvar goes beyond that and asks us to question the rationale of being 'tied-down', to conform, to loose oneself in another person's life. The message is actually made clear by the film's provocative ending, which I will not reveal just in case you're thinking of watching the film.

The film was slated by many critics when it came out, but I'm sure many were made to eat their words upon second viewing. The screenplay, direction, cinematography, editing, and the performances by the main actors are superb, as is the awesome sound track by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Much as I'd like to include a DVD link for Átame!, I cannot recommend the ones on sale at the moment - they are either letter-boxed PAL versions with hard-coded English subtitles (avoid them as I purchased without knowing), or the ridiculously expensive NTSC versions. I was lucky to get one from Mexico (from which this compilation was made) but it's not available now.

Off-topic note:
Let me digress a bit here with the fact that after this film, Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas finally got back working together in Almodóvar's latest and much anticipated film, "La Piel que Habito" [Eng. Title: The Skin I Live in]. I watched it at the cinema last week (it was a toss-up between this and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" - and I don't regret my decision one bit) - I can assure you that here we see Almodóvar at his original twisted best that made his films so unique. If this film is running anywhere close to you - DO NOT miss it! It also has plenty of nudity, which I will of course review when it comes out on DVD.

Compilation: Victoria Abril and Loles León
Only made using the 'best' bits... :-)

Victoria Abril from Pedro Almodovar's "Tie me Up! Tie me Down!"

Scene Guide:
  • Short snippets from three connected scenes where Marina turns up at the film set without panties. She removed them apparently because they are showing through her dress - her sister nearby remarks that she'd much rather her panties show through than her 'chocho'..! Some brief but priceless, sexy and funny pantyless upskirts ensue during and after the film-shoot when the director also gets to have a look-in. She admonishes him for staring at her 'like that'. Marina of course, is played by the legendary sultry siren - Victoria Abril.
  • This is one of the all-time classics - it would be humiliating to hear a blog visitor admit not seeing this in some form before. This is of Marina playing with her toy frogman in the bath - obviously the guy who designed it noticed a niche in the competitive bath accessory market..!
  • No nudity - Ricky takes Marina captive in her own flat, and Marina isn't pleased. Looking at his lust-filled eyes, she asks him to fuck her and get over with it, but he tells her, "take it easy - all in good time". Ricky of course is played by another famous Spanish export - a youthful Antonio Banderas - one can easily see why women have had frequent wet dreams over him (apparently!).
  • Poor Marina is still without knickers after the film-shoot and is now asked to change so they can go to the pharmacy. Ricki likes what he sees - and so do we.
  • This is possibly a directorial goof - Marina's suddenly sprung panties when they return home. She asks him to look away while changing.
  • The film director watching one of Marina's porn tapes. His insufferably sympathetic wife drops in to ask if he needs anything - he tells her he's fine.
  • No nudity but some sexy upskirts in these scenes, first when Marina tries to snatch from a sleeping Ricky the keys to her handcuffs, and later when she's carried to the neighbour's flat (who'd gone away on holiday) so that no one would bother them. There's also a toilet visit in between - when a disgusted Marina promises Ricky that she could never fall in love with him.
  • Marina is gradually getting accustomed to Ricky, and this time when she changes, she actually asks him to help her with the dress.
  • Ricky returns all bruised - he'd just been beaten up and robbed by some junkies. Marina pities him, and they make love. It is an erotic scene where Ms. Abril and Mr. Banderas really seem to be going for it, even if there's nothing explicit shown. Apparently the scene took several takes lasting a whole day - imagine that..!
  • A very brief flash - but a flash nevertheless, of Marina's sister Lola using the bathroom. Lola is played by sexy and funny Loles León, who also steals the show in some of the film's scenes.


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