This is a part of my Pedro Almodovar Marathon.
So when a film involves a man being released from some sort of institution where he gains favour by sleeping with the director only to immediately go to a film set where he focuses on his prey, a former pornographic actress and drug addict, that he then kidnaps in order for her to get to know him so they can be together — you know you’re in for something special.
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! feels almost like a blend between Secretary and After Hours. It captures the odd romance between these characters that we have no clue how to feel about with a torturous couple days that we see our protagonists suffer through.
While there is a lot in the realm of sexuality, possession and love to be discussed through this film it warrants a much more deep discussion on the comedy of the film. When a film presents a plot as absurd as shown above and refuses to take it to dark places it immediately becomes funny. We imagine early on that this is going to go poorly, as does Marina (Victoria Abril) when she says “just fuck me already” and Ricky (Antonio Banderas) refuses saying that they will when the time comes — which you can take as foreboding or hopeful.
But talking about the sexuality more specifically it’s something that Almodovar looks to highlight. Making his lead actress a former porn star in a film where she’s tied up by a male kidnapper it is in the forefront of our minds. We have a small scene, before Ricky becomes the dominant force of the film, with Marina in a bathtub having a scuba diver toy swim directly between her legs and boom. If we weren’t already thinking about sex we were now. There’s even a moment early on as Marina is leaving the set of the film she just wrapped where she’s bent over looking for something on the ground and her director remains there agape directly at her where he says “I’m not staring, I’m admiring”, is there a difference? We see that Ricky isn’t there to just take some physical pleasure from Marina and leave; is that admiration? There’s even later on when Ricky and Marina finally have sex; this is the moment that Marina finally says she remembers Ricky. What a moment for a character connection, not only is it physical but it’s much more.
Otherwise the film is a lot of really fun hijinks. We see Ricky trying to go get drugs in the middle of the night, he takes Marina out and we keep watching for how crazy they’ll both go as she tries to figure a way out of this whole kidnapped thing and even some of the scenes away from the couple with her sister at the film production are pretty fun crazy. I wouldn’t call this movie a complete winner but it’s definitely a fun start to this marathon.