Labyrinth of Passion - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Labyrinth of Passion Reviews

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½ October 11, 2015
Sexilia (Cecilia Roth) is a pop star and sex addict; Riza Niro (Imanol Arias) is the gay son of the Emperor of Tiran. Both are strolling around Madrid's flea market, aiming to pick up lovers. Sexilia takes two men for an orgy, where she is the only woman. In the hope of curing her nymphomania and her fear of the sun, she is undergoing psychotherapy. However, her psychoanalyst, Susana, is far more interested in sleeping with Sexila's father, Doctor de la Peña, a gynecologist specializing in artificial insemination. As the doctor is frigid, Susana does not have a chance with him. One of Doctor de la Peña's patients is Princess Toraya (Helga Liné), the ex-wife of the former Emperor of Tiran. Flicking through a magazine, Toraya discovers that her stepson Riza Nero is also in town. Thanks to treatment by Sexilia's father, Toraya is now fertile for the first time in her life. Since the emperor's sperm is currently unavailable to her, she will settle for that of his son, Riza, whom she attempts to track down. In Madrid, Riza is living incognito, constantly wearing a wig and dark glasses. He gets involved first with Fabio, a young junkie transvestite. Later he meets Sadec (Antonio Banderas) on the street and the two go to Sadec's place. Ironically, Sadec is a member of a group of terrorists looking for Riza, but fails to recognize him in disguise. When Riza realizes that Sadec is also from Tiran, he decides to change his hair and clothes in order to protect his anonymity. With Fabio's help, Riza transforms his appearance to a punk. Sexilia and Riza, who knew each other when they were children, meet again, when Riza, disguised as "Johnny", is performing as the lead singer with a punk band in the absence of one of their regulars. That night, they fall in love but do not sleep together. The two opt for a chaste relationship since each wants this relationship to be "different". Making time in her busy schedule for her laundry, Sexilia meets Queti (Marta Fernández Muro), a young woman who works in a dry-cleaner owned by her father. Her mother skipped out on her father a few weeks earlier and the father, who takes Vitapens to stimulate his sex drive and potency, pretends to mistake Queti for her mother and binds her to the bed and rapes her on alternate days, despite the fact that Queti regularly laces his tea with a libido-suppressing chemical called Benzamuro. In search of consolation, Queti dresses up in the clothes of her role model Sexilia. One day Sexilia spots Queti in the street wearing one of her outfits and confronts her. They become friends. Queti tells Sexilia about the problem with her father and Sexilia tells her that she cannot stop thinking about Riza. Sexilia and Riza mutual adoration has "cured" Riza's compulsive homosexuality and Sexilia's nymphomania. Queti and Sexilia hatch a plan: they agree to swap identities so that Queti can escape her father's sexual abuse and take on the role of Sexilia for real. This would allow Sexilia to escape with her lover Riza. However, Toraya finally catches up with Riza and seduces him. When Sexilia goes to Riza's hotel, she finds Toraya and Riza together. Riza tries to convince her that sex with Toraya was only practice for the real thing with her, but Sexilia is distraught. The knowledge of Riza's infidelity drives Sexilia to her psychoanalyst. Under therapy, Sexilia discovers that Toraya was responsible for both her childhood traumas and her nymphomania in the same incident that made Riza gay. Rejected by her father, she had had sex with a group of boys on the beach, while Riza looked on. Sexilia meets up with Queti, who after plastic surgery has taken her place. Queti persuades Sexilia to give Riza another chance. Sadec, who has a highly developed sense of smell and has fallen head over heels in love with Riza, is looking for him everywhere. Sadec's roommates, Islamic extremists, plan to kidnap Riza. Queti warns Sexilia and Riza of the danger and, when Toraya and the Islamic extremists arrive at the airport, Riza and Sexilia are already on the plane bound for Contadora, a tropical island. Back in Madrid, Queti, now Sexilia's look-alike, sleeps with the latter's father, whom she has always fancied; he, believing her to be Sexilia, achieves his aim of truly loving his daughter. At the airport Sadec and his companions, having lost Riza, kidnap Toraya. On the airplane Riza and Sexilia make love for the first time...

"Labyrinth of Passion" was made during the golden age of the Madrid movida, between 1977 and 1983, and almost all the key figures of the movement - painters, musicians - are part of the large cast. Depicting the hedonism of underground music venues and gay cruising grounds, the daring script shows Almodóvar's enthusiastic embrace of Spain's new-found freedom of expression. For this reason, the film retains an emblematic power in Spain. It ran for ten years on a midnight run at Madrid's Alphaville cinema, but was released in the United States, England, France and Italy only after the success of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. This was Almodóvar's second film and independently produced with a shoestring budget which allowed for better production values than his previous film "Pepi, Luci, Bom", and to employ a more complex narrative. Although badly received by Spanish film critics, "Labyrinth of Passion" was a modest success and quickly reached cult film status. The film is an outrageous look at love and sex, framed in Madrid of the early 1980s, during the so-called Movida madrileña, a period of sexual adventurousness between the dissolution of Franco's authoritarian regime and the onset of AIDS consciousness. "Positively bristles with vibrant colors and a wildly comic sexual energy," wrote Marsha Kinder in Film Comment. Nevertheless, critical reaction was generally negative. Writing in El Periodico, JL. Guarner suggested that: "The story is nothing more than a series of episodes, summarily linked, and what we have come to call cinema plays little part in it. The bizarre plot does not live up to its promise, for its weakened by parallel subplots which weave in and out of it more or less haphazardly." Almodóvar said about "Labyrinth of Passion": "I like the film even if it could have been better made. The main problem is that the story of the two leads is much less interesting than the stories of all the secondary characters. But precisely because there are so many secondary characters, there's a lot in the film I like." This is I reckon clear evidence of a young Almodóvar that hadn´t yet found his way of making film with a flow and with a main plot that can handle all the subplots. It´s very messy in the storyline and it´s hard to keep track of all the crazy characters that move in and out of the film and the film becomes very scattered. And his attempt of adding as much "chock value" as possible shines through and it becomes over ambitious and a bit too much in my eyes. But, at the same time I do like the fact that he goes all in with so many things concerning sexuality, love and the psyche he wants to shed a light on in "Labyrinth of Passion".
½ September 30, 2015
Gamberro y cutre, mas tarde se pulió.
Super Reviewer
February 24, 2015
Pedro Almodovar began to find his style with his second feature "Labyrinth of Passion." His direction is a bit shaky, and he hasn't quite figured out yet how to pace and edit a large-cast, multi-subplot film. The many characters aren't easy to keep straight (pun intended), but their interwoven adventures manage to loosely coalesce by the end. There's something to offend everyone here: casual incest, flamboyant homosexuality, transsexuality, drugs, nymphomania, artificial insemination and possibly the most disgusting poop joke ever (but surprisingly, not too much nudity). Most of the action centers around a visiting Middle Eastern prince who is exploring Madrid's debauched club scene incognito. He sings in a band. He beds people of both sexes. He avoids terrorists (including Antonio Banderas, so young he's almost unrecognizable, playing a lad with an impossible ability to track like a bloodhound). Oh, and there's also a sexy pop star who can't figure out why she's afraid of the sun. Naturally. Almodovar himself has a fun cameo as an effeminate singer.
Jason Derfuss
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2014
Better than his first, "Labyrinth of Passion" starts slow, builds slow, and has an over-the-top obnoxious finale that actually made the grueling 75 minutes prior worth it.
November 23, 2013
a early effort shows just why he is so big now
October 7, 2013
Good Film Overall surprised with the performance by Cecilia Roth etc. but It was a great watch. Not the type of film I wold recomend to anyone but nonetheless a great film.
March 24, 2013
Gleefully perverted.
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2013
early Almodovar tale of a gay terrorist, a nymphomaniac, and a Prince.
½ September 6, 2012
The second feature film by Pedro Almodóvar, after Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980) proved to be a surprise hit in Spain and Europe on release, Almodóvar was given more money for his next film, and a 35mm camera too. This is a wild screwball comedy set in the pop world of Madrid. It's a fun look at the early 1980's, with some colourful performances. Sexilia (Cecilia Roth) is a pop star and a nymphomaniac. She picks up 5 men for an orgy, but she wants to get over her addiction to sex. Sexilia's psychoanalyst Susana (Ofelia Angà (C)lica) wants to have sex with Sexilia's father, gynecologist Doctor de la Peña (Fernando Vivanco). Sexilia reunites with childhood friend Riza Niro (Imanol Arias), who is heir to the throne of Middle Eastern country Tiran, but Riza is in disgrace as he is homosexual, and has been having a gay relationship with fellow Tiran countryman Sadec (Antonio Banderas). However, Sexilia and Riza end up falling in love, and are able to hold a quite chaste relationship where sex isn't on the menu. But trouble strikes when Islamic terrorists arrive to kidnap Riza, and more secrets emerge. It's very over the top, and sex is high on the menu here, but Almodóvar manages to keep the mood up, and there's some quite eye-opening stuff going on, even Almodóvar himself cameo's in drag on stage!! Despite critical indifference at the time, it was a hit, and Almodóvar got to make more films.
½ May 28, 2012
What the hell is going on?
December 11, 2011
Sexilia es el nombre de ella. Que mas puedo añadir?
October 18, 2011
i am a big Pedro Almodovar fan and i want to see all of his movies.
September 20, 2011
Campy fun frantic energy
½ September 5, 2011
Coarse, offensive and utterly ridiculous, Pedro Almodovar's second feature retains the rough, comic abandon of his first film and yet begins to show evidence of his ability to tie together a more succinct and intelligent narrative style. Each character is a beautifully constructed caricature, each intertwining story-line an exuberant and indulgent contrivance, and yet come the final manic car-chase, you will surely be rooting for the gay prince of Tiran and his nymphomaniac lover.
½ July 8, 2011
Antonio Banderas as an assassin or hitman...great. Antonio Banderas as a homosexual...pass.
½ June 15, 2011
Some funny gags but for the most part I was just disturbed throughout the entire flick. Pretty bad acing throughout and the storyline was so over-the-top it was nowhere near believable. The characters were so outrageous that you didn't feel bad for any of them and didn't really care what happened to them. Even a young (albeit gay) Antonio Banderas didn't help this mess.
August 7, 2010
Mas en el estilo camp y desenfadado de inicios de Almodovar, no tan trabajado en el aspecto artistico y profesional, pero si rebosante de creatividad, locura e ideas arriesgadas. Una comedia de enredos sin tapujos, atrevidisima, se burla de los tabues y las reglas sociales, es groseramente deliciosa.
July 6, 2010
A hillarious Masterpiece who uniteds intelligent Dialogues with bizarre Sexual Passion and Punk Rock Culture it's remind of a Russ Meyer Movie transplanted into the Spain of the Early 80's amd change Sex Scenes with intelligent Dialogues and handle with Themes of Homosexuality, Inzest and Political Issues it contains a similar Message as a Russ Meyer Movie with that Fact that many Problems are result of absent Sexuality and go a Step Further that the Final Solution is Sexuality with Love or Love at All
June 24, 2010
Einföld og frekar groddaleg, oft er eini tilgangurinn að hneyksla en samt er eitthvað svo Almodóvar-klikkað við hana að það er gaman að henni.
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2010
Early and great Almodovar! We start to see what become recurring themes in his later films - homosexuality, prostitutes and cross dressers..all representing deep held emotions and feelings that are experienced by us all.
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