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Anchor Bay presents
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (¡Átame!) (1990)

"If we hold hands, the handcuffs won't show."
- Ricky (Antonio Banderas)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas, Loles Leó n
Other Stars: Francisco Rabal, Julieta Serrano
Director: Pedro Almodóvar

MPAA Rating: NC-17 for (battery, full-frontal nudity, sexual situations)
Run Time: 01h:41m:00s
Release Date: February 27, 2001
UPC: 013131126792
Genre: black comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C+A-B D

DVD Review

This movie caused quite a sensation when it was released in 1990 with an NC-17 rating. In retrospect, the film does not deserve the rating for a brief scene featuring a diving toy in a bathtub and a sex scene between the two stars. What must have twigged the censors was not necessarily the explicit nature of this scene but rather the energetic "enjoyment" of the characters in contraposition to the usual treatment in Hollywood films in which the participants barely move during langurous tracking shots.

The stars, Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril, are very attractive as they struggle in roles that are quite illogical, even within the broad farce of the story. The screenplay is the weakest aspect of the production; the premise of the story is difficult at best. Ricky (Banderas), a mental patient, meets B-movie actress, Marina (Abril), on an escape and, when he is finally released, decides to seek her out and convince her to fall in love with him so they can marry and live happily ever after.

Marina, a former porn star and heroin addict, resists his advances at first and is forced to submit by being tied up, as Ricky goes on various tasks such as securing drugs for her. Most of the elements of the plot are purposely repellent.

The whole thing is remarkably unfunny. This is one of those films that leaves one wondering what made them stand out from the pack at the time of their release. Often, I have found this to be so for me when watching foreign films that have a reputation for "uniqueness" or even "greatness." Tie Me Up! Time Me Down! is far from a great film; but still, it has some interesting moments. Director Almodóvar seems to hint at deeper meanings that are not there—I don't leave out the possibility that I am just not getting it; perhaps it "loses something in translation." In the end, the film emerges as a finely-crafted, dark confection.

This was the breakthrough performance for Banderas; his co-star, Abril, has had a long and distinguished career in Spanish films. Pedro Almodóvar went on to direct Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother), winning the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2000 Academy Awards®.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: One of the finest aspects of Tie Me Up! Time Me Down! is the beautiful color. The fleshtones are gorgeous and the detailed sets make for some fabulous viewing. The camera work and framing is innovative without being distracting, and several scenes make one grateful for the anamorphic format. This is a stunning film and the transfer does it justice.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The excellent, crisp Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack shows off the uniformly fine Ennio Morricone score to great advantage. The sound was bright and filled the room at a reasonable listening level without distortion.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 33 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There is a trailer that makes up the entire extras category here. One would think that in marketing a foreign title on DVD, there would be some consideration to include materials that might help the initiate to better appreciate the film. Many of the actors could be famous stars in their own country, but one would not know without filmographies or interviews. Elements of the story that are particular to a genre or style would be easily illuminated by notes of some kind. Value could be added to a DVD that stops short of a Special Edition extravaganza that jack up the price, but still makes a better package.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Although quite "unfunny" and hampered by a weak script, there are many reasons to watch this film. The acting is good and the direction is consistently interesting. A "must-have" for Antonio Banderas fans.


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