Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Dual-Format Review

    Actors: Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas, Loles León
  • Director: Pedro Almodóvar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NC-17
  • Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
  • Release Date: August 19, 2014
  • Run Time: 101 minutes

  •         How much I enjoy Pedro Almodóvar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Átame!) depends upon on how much I try and intellectualize it. If I take the characters and the screenplay too seriously, I find myself annoyed at their illogical decisions and the gaps in narrative within the story. There is a lot which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but instead conveys an almost intentional artifice in the film’s events. It would feel entirely existent within a fantasy world if it weren’t for the moments of brutal violence that drive the narrative back into reality. They become so much a part of the film’s design that the anticlimactic happy ending is another jolting reminder that we are watching a film. From the film’s opening sequences and the story behind the film’s conception, this seems to be Almodóvar’s intention.


            Created as a reason to utilize an expensive set built for the filming of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Almodóvar began writing the screenplay in-between filming. This wasn’t ultimately a film that was made, but the seeds from that inspiration started the idea for making a love story between a woman held hostage and her captor. Antonio Banderas stars as a mental patient whose release from the hospital he has spent much of his life in is followed immediately by the kidnapping of former porn star turned actress, Marina (Victoria Abril). After sneaking onto the set of the horror film she is filming, Ricky follows Marina home and takes her hostage in her own apartment. He claims that they are meant to be together, and means to keep her tied up until she realizes her love for him as well.


            The darkness of Almodóvar’s romantic comedy is balanced by the colorful palette of his longtime cinematographer, José Luis Alcaine. At the time of its release, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was instrumental in the creation of the NC-17 rating, after complaints about the dreaded X-rating it received in “the States.” Although some of the violence towards women is somewhat disturbing, especially considering the lighthearted ending of the film, this film is quite tame by today’s standards.


            The director-approved dual-format Blu-ray and DVD special edition release includes a new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director and producer. There is also a new making-of documentary, with interviews from key cast and crew members, and another feature with a new interview by Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker about Almodóvar and the film. Also new to this release is an updated English translation for the subtitles. There is additionally some archival footage from the film’s 1990 premiere party, conversations between Almodóvar and Banderas from 2003, and a booklet insert with an assortment of articles and interviews from Almodóvar and fans.


    Entertainment Value: 8/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

    Historical Significance:  9/10

    Special Features: 9.5/10

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