Kiss of the Spider Woman 1984 ****

Leonard Schrader adapts Manuel Puig’s novel for director Hector Babenco with a light touch considering the gravity of the subject matter; Valentin (Raul Julia) is a political prisoner in a South American jail, who finds an unexpected friendship with his fellow inmate Molina (William Hurt). Despite the degradations of their situation, Valentin finds himself charmed by Molina’s gift for storytelling, and Babenco creates a meta-narrative in which Molina’s stories blend with the stark backgrounds of the jail-cell the two men are cooped up in. Hurt won an Oscar for his performance, and his sonorous tones create cinematic magic as he intones stores of Nazis’ romance, and the mysterious spider-woman. A populist hit from unlikely subject-matter, Kiss of the Spider Woman is an adult, imaginative high-brow entertainment.


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