Law of Desire *1/2
Every single great director out there has made one stinker for every five or so great ones. And so, I have discovered Pedro Almodovar's with "Law of Desire," the sixth film in the "Viva Pedro" restropective series. It's not the first Almodovar that I disliked, but the first that I downright hated, and the first where I felt like I checked my watch a dozen times instead of paying attention to what was going on. I didn't doze off, but I felt like I was coming close. "Law of Desire" is long, unfocused, and it drifts from event to event quicker than a Slinky going down a flight of stairs. It's never interesting, and doesn't have any memorable, or amusing characters that I can remember. It's also very dull, and throughout the middle, I didn't want to know what would happen to any of these characters. In fact, I didn't even care, not a little bit.
Originally released in 1987, "Law of Desire" begins with a standard Almodovar scene. There is something happening to who we assume will be the main character. Or there is a tragic event being told to someone, And then Almodovar plays a trick on the audience, and it turns out that this scene that is happening is really part of a film within a film. The same thing happens here, as through the first scene we are introduced to the directing styles of Pablo, a very popular gay filmmaker, who has numerous adoring fans. One of these is Antonio, who constantly pops up at all of the filmmakers events. Pablo is in love with Juan, a young man who doesn't respond to the stacks and stacks of letters that Pablo writes to him. In an odd twist, Pablo writes the letters to Juan that he wants Juan to send back to him. The perfect writing which Pablo wants to recieve. Pablo's sister is Tina, who used to be a man before the operation, after a strange relationship with her father when s(he) was a little boy. Pablo ends up meeting Antonio, and they form a sexual relationship, until Antonio is overcome with jealousy over Pablo's affection towards Juan. And Antonio begins a path of revenge, as a way to fulfull his utmost and deepest desires, no matter what it takes.
"Law of Desire" follows a theory that was presented in "The Flower of My Secret." It is alright to do whatever it is that is done when a person is overcome with emotion. Antonio is obsessed with Pablo, and hates Juan, so whatever he does to conquer his feelings for Pablo is alright, because it's really his desire doing it. This film, however, just doesn't work at all. I found it very uninteresting, and at times hard to watch. There was a little subplot about memory loss towards the end which was just misplaced. I felt as if Almodovar put a whole bunch of little pieces of papers with ideas into a hat, and then slowly picked out a few and formed a script based on that. It failed at whatever it tried to accomplish, which I don't think was much. I forgive it to a point. This is one of his earlier films, and not everyone starts with a perfect career. But for early Almodovar, there is much better, as this series proves, including "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," his comic masterpiece.
Seeing this series as a whole, I can see that "Law of Desire" is a slight precurser to "The Flower of My Secret," but only slightly. I'm also noticing that Almodovar uses similar themes and motifs in many of his films, which ironically make these earlier ones slightly hard to watch. I've seen many of these stories and styles in his later works. I certainly am noticing that Almodovar has a select number of actual gems. But I keep watching, to see some of the most unusual characters and plots ever put on film.