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Law of Desire or La ley del deseo (in original Spanish) by Pedro Almodóvar

February 11, 2016

LODPablo and Tina have complicated sexual lives. Pablo writes and directs plays and films; he’s gay and deeply in love with Juan, a young man who won’t reply to Pablo’s affection or letters. Pablo’s sibling Tina is a transsexual, angry at men, raising Ada, and trying to make it as an actress. Pablo takes up with Antonio, a youth who becomes jealous of Pablo’s love for Juan. Antonio seeks out Juan, and violence leads to Pablo’s grief and a temporary loss of memory. When memory returns, he learns that Antonio has taken up with Tina. In horror, he hurries to Tina’s rescue and must face Antonio and his desire

Almodovar has always said that his ultimate goal was “to reach audiences directly through their hearts, their minds–and their genitals.”

Almodovar was “more nervous shooting the film’s sex scenes than the actors.”  None of the actors was gay, which made it easier for him, “because then the performers act and represent, they are not reliving.

Some of the men try to forget the past, but not Tina, who stresses the importance of memory and the inevitable burden of the past on the present.  When the priest urges Tina to forget their love affair, Tina cannot (and is unable to), because all she has now are memories. Similarly, when Pablo suffers from amnesia, Tina insists on maintaining the past and their filial bonding.  “Your amnesia deprives me of memory,” she says, pointing to an album of old photos when they were happy boys, a scene that reduces both of them to tears.

LOD 2That older gay men can and do play surrogate fathers-brothers to their younger lovers is manifest in two scenes, both involving Pablo, in which Almodovar evokes the religious image of “La Pieta.”  In the first, Pablo carries his lover Juan to the bedroom on their last, chaste night, “as one would carry a child.” And in the end, after the psychotic Antonio shoots himself, Pablo holds him in his arms as a baby, evoking religious iconcongraphy of La Pieta.  “Law of Desire” is a dark amour fou, where passionate love leads to death, but it’s also a portrait of gay men who, despite promiscuity with many lovers, can still be tender and sensitive.  Juan leaves Pablo, because he feels that he cannot love him as the ultra-narcissistic Pablo wants and needs to be desired.

The main theme of the movie is “What is love worth.” What Antonio teaches Pablo is that love is worth everything.

As always full of sex and full of demonization towards the Catholic Church and its “celibate” priests. Pedro Almodovar usually tells the untold story of the church in Spain in a way that’s always cynical.

Pablo Quintero: It’s not your fault if you don’t love me and its not my fault if I love you.

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