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  • Benjamin May

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989) Review

Ricky is a charismatic 23-year-old who has just been released from a mental asylum. He has no goal in life but to settle down with Marina Osorio, a famed porn actress whom he once had a one-night stand with. The first step in his seduction technique is to force his way into Marina's flat and tie her to the bed. From there, as time marches on, Ricky is sure she will have no choice but to fall in love with him. In his mind, it's a fool-proof plan, though the realities of the situation prove to be a lot more complicated, as we see in Pedro Almodóvar's brilliant 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!'

A darkly comic love story, 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' is funny, unpredictable and thoroughly enjoyable. Written by Almodóvar, Ricky and Marina's story is off-beat and surprisingly heartfelt. His dialogue is quick and sharp, and while his characters are all humorous creations to be sure, they are also multifaceted ones of depth and intelligence. They leave an impression on the viewer, and watching the narrative unfold around them is a delight. The film's examination of relationship structures is one most percipient, and Almodóvar's subversion of the traditional courting routines is wickedly clever. The themes involved therein are explored maturely, and- all in all- it's a great, dark little tale that'll keep you entertained throughout.

'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' is a visually stunning watch, boasting stylish cinematography from José Luis Alcaine. Under Almodóvar's direction, he makes terrific use of space, texture and especially colour. His second collaboration with the director, Alcaine's utilisation of primary colours in the film is arresting, particularly of the reds and oranges; which linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled. It's a highly stylized film, with some extremely artistic shots that captivate the eye. Credit for the overall look of the film must also go to art director Ferran Sánchez and production designer Esther García, whose efforts have helped form the multicoloured spectacle that the finished flick is.

The film features a score from the late, great Ennio Morricone, arguably the king of the motion picture soundtrack. His work for 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' is delicate and beautiful, adding no small amount of majesty to the proceedings; with the track 'If You Knew How Many Nights' being particularly haunting. Also of note is José Salcedo's editing, which is swift and flawless; with scenes cut together seamlessly. Additionally, José María de Cossío's costume design is intricate and detailed, and his costumes for Marina are especially rich.

'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' finds Victoria Abril and Antonio Banderas starring as Marina and Ricky, respectively. Abril is terrific, and gives a spirited performance of tenacity and wit. An incredibly likable and talented performer, she gives the role her all and holds nothing back. She is matched by Banderas, who brings boundless charm and intensity to Ricky, making him a most lovable madman. Together, they work wonderfully, sharing an electric chemistry that seems genuine. From the supporting cast, Loles León and Francisco Rabal stand out, giving hilarious performances that are highlights in both of their filmographies.

Original, funny and heartfelt, Pedro Almodóvar's 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' is a marvellous black comedy that impresses on every level. Featuring an assured visual style and terrific cinematography from José Luis Alcaine, as well as an emotive Ennio Morricone score, the movie has a lot to offer viewers. Strongly acted and cleverly written, the film is a colourful and crazy love story that is sure to entertain any who watch it.


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