Kiss of the Spider Woman

Manuel Puig's novel of a flamboyant homosexual (William Hurt) and a stern-minded revolutionary (Raul Julia) thrown together in a dank South American prison cell. Stripped of its structural complexity, the story becomes a conventional, faintly bogus humanist tract, in which the two men come to honor, understand, and trade roles with each other. Director Hector Babenco (Pixote) chooses a flatly theatrical approach that serves to showcase the technique of his actors at the expense of a convincing involvement in a particular time and place. The film's theme of acceptance is undercut considerably by Hurt's overcalculated performance, in which a slow transition to more “masculine” gestures is equated with his character's growing moral stature. Sonia Braga costars as the heroine of the film-within-the-film, a mythical studio romance that Hurt recounts to pass the time. With Jose Lewgoy, Milton Goncalves, and Nuno Leal Maia; the screenplay is by Leonard Schrader (1985, 121 min.).

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