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  Labyrinth of Passion Love Is In The Air
Year: 1982
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Stars: Cecilia Roth, Imanol Arias, Helga Liné, Marta Fernández Muro, Fernando Vivanco, Ofelia Anjélica, Ángel Alcázar, Concha Grégori, Cristina Sánchez Pascual, Fabio McNamara, Antonio Banderas, Luis Ciges, Agustin Almodóvar, María Elena Flores, Ana Trigo
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sexi (Cecilia Roth) is a nymphomaniac, or so she believes, and despite her aversion to being out during the day she walks through a flea market checking out the men there. Also around, in a nearby bar, is Riza (Imanol Arias), the son of the Emperor of Tiran, but he's a conflicted soul hiding from his responsibilities who allows himself to be picked up by the flamboyant Fabio (Fabio McNamara). The next day, Sexi consults her psychiatrist Susana (Ofelia Anjélica) while she does the ironing, but finds ironing out Sexi's problems far more difficult...

Labyrinth is right, as you'd be forgiven for losing track of your bearings in this everything but the kitchen sink comedy melodrama, an early work from writer (with Terry Lennox) and director Pedro Almodóvar. The camp sensibilities were by now fully in place, as was the apparent outrageousness whose sincerity, mixed with a sunny dispostion here, tended to defuse exactly how shocking the viewer might have found it - as usual, his films sound more daring than they actually play.

Labyrinth, or Laberinto de Pasiones as it was known in Spanish, is a deeply romantic work at heart as the impression is that Almodóvar wants nothing better for his characters than someone to love. Although they don't know it, Sexi and Riza are made for each other, but will they get together for the frantic finale? Before they get a chance to meet, we have to wade through a plethora of other eccentrics, some more repressed than others, such as Sexi's biogynaecologist father who has created a form of artificial insemination because he can't stand the thought of real sex.

He's not the only one with sexual problems, as Sexi's dry cleaner Queti (Marta Fernández Muro) does too; she is Sexi's biggest fan as the nymphomaniac is also a performer with an all-girl rock band, although we have to take that as read as we never hear her sing. Queti's father has been abandoned by her mother, but in his grief he keeps confusing her with his wife and tying her up in bondage sessions, mainly because every time he takes an aphrodisiac she secretly supplies him with an antidote that inadvertently sends him loopy. As you can see, this film is like a crazed soap opera.

And that's just one of the plotlines of this twisty-turny story, as if Almodóvar was easily distracted and every time another person wandered into frame he felt compelled to follow them to find out what their problems were and see if he could help. Antonio Banderas makes one of his pre-stardom appearances here as a gay terrorist who falls in love with Riza, only smelling him to the exclusion of everything else, and there's more. After a while you'll consider precisely how the director will wrap up his maze of relationships, and the answer is that he doesn't - by the end there's as much a commotion of emotions as there was at the beginning. It's amusing enough, but looks like the work of someone determined to fit as much wackiness in as possible, so it's a mess to be honest. Music by Bernardo Bonezzi and McNamara.

[Tartan's Region 2 DVD just has a trailer as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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