105 Must See Films

105 Must See Films: Kiss Of The Spiderwoman (1985)

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Starring: William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga

Director: Hector Babenco

Two men in a South American prison survive their desperate days together by sharing the story from an old film seen before they were captured. Molina is a kind hearted gay man with a secret, and Valentin is a idealistic, uptight political prisoner, tortured for information about his political cell.

As time passes, we learn more about the lives of the two, what lies at the heart of each, and what each is hiding, as well as how they really feel about each other.

Why Is It A Must See: The film was one of the first independent films to really make it big. It was recognised at the Oscars with a Best Picture nomination, William Hurt won an Oscar his performance of Molina, a first for an openly gay character. It was also adapted into a musical that won quite a few Tony awards.

The two characters are each stubborn and not entirely pure in their motives, but they’re fascinating. I really liked William Hurt as Molina, because he was kind, conflicted, often funny. He was well developed and not played for comedy or over the top. He felt real and vulnerable. Raul Julia is also very good as Valentin, who is less vulnerable and often hard to like, though he has high ideals.

There’s something about a South American prison film that makes you feel like no one gets out alive or unscathed, and you can’t look away from these two as they seem doomed, sometimes friends, sometimes enemies.

See It If: Perhaps not a date night movie, but one for those of you who want something more intelligent and more dramatic than your average fare. It’s really very good.

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