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April Showers: Antonio Banderas in "Law of Desire"

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Manuel on Law of Desire (1987). 

Almodóvar is the air again due to Chus Lampreave's passing and his latest, Julieta getting solid reviews (his best since Volver). And since April is “Actor Month” here at TFE let's kill two birds with one stone by looking at a small scene featuring Antonio Banderas and Eusebio Poncela from the 1987 classic Law of Desire.

The film centers on Antonio (Banderas) and his obsessive fixation with a gay film director (Poncela). After stalking him and eventually roping his way into his life, Antonio settles on trying to shape Pablo after his own image. First, he fixes some things around Pablo’s messy apartment, including some tiles in his shower, and then, the next day he takes it upon himself to set some sort of routine for them.

The shower scene is the film in miniature, with deliciously homoerotic pleasantries leading the way to darker undertones. Antonio wakes Pablo up early and coaxes him into the shower where, as he bathes him, he tells him he should be leading a healthier life: no other men, no coke. What Pablo sees as playful jabs, mere misdirected moments of paternal concern, soon alert him to what’s lurking underneath.

“Who is Juan?” Antonio asks; he’s been reading Pablo’s correspondence. It’s here the dynamics of the scene (and the film at large) change. Pablo grows agitated, taking the shower handle from Antonio, later grabbing his arm, a futile attempt at controlling this impressionable young man who’ll careen their lives towards a fiery, violent ending. He leaves, pissed off, leaving Antonio to stew in his own inadequacy.

Banderas has arguably done his best work for Almodóvar, lacing his own seductive charm with a streak for the possessive (see also: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and The Skin I Live In) to great effect. The actor had a minor role in Malick's recent Knight of Cups and was last seen in The 33 which came and went with little fanfare. He’ll next be tackling a role he’s wanted to play for a while: Pablo Picasso in Carlos Saura’s 33 Days.

 But let’s turn it to all of you: what’s your favorite Banderas performance?

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Reader Comments (12)

For me, it's Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down and The Skin I Live In. I think Antonio is at his best when he's with Almodovar as I enjoyed his cameo in I'm So Excited as that's a film I liked a lot. I thought it was just Almodovar taking a break from drama and wanting to have fun. It was obvious the actors in the film were just there having a good time and I bet Antonio and Penelope Cruz did the film for a Euro because they loved Pedro so much.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

I loved him in this, although I'll always have a soft spot for his performance in "Femme Fatale."

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P

Love this movie, LOVE it.

Favorite Banderas (besides this): The Skin I Live In, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Shrek 2, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, The Mask of Zorro, Philadelphia, Shrek the Third.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw


Law of Desire should be in the Top 5 of all the LGTB lists out there, but it never is. Shame.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Steven - agreed. Don't know why people hated that film so much. I thought it was a funny tossed off lark.

Banderas's best work is Atamé! -- i wouldn't have been mad if Abril & him had been up the Oscars.

Peggy Sue -- 100%

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Banderas is a great actor only in Almodóvar films. Not sure why he kinda stopped doing that and moved to Hollywood. It ruined his career in my opinion.

I am so psyched for Julieta. Haven't seen yet an Almodóvar I didn't think was great. I know I'm in a minority, but my favorite still is Tacones Lejanos :-)

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

In an alternate universe there is a version of this with Ralph Fiennes and Oscar Isaac.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commentertherealmike

therealmike --would this alternate universe be your dreams?

adelutza -- agreed on banderas. he needed the almodovar films as undergirding because without them his career just was a slow dive into mediocrity (but not without a few highlights).
i might do an almodovar retrospective this year. Just trying to get access to a couple of titles. if i can i will.

April 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I adore Antonio. ADORE. I think he's at his best in bad movies, he elevates the material in a way that proves something about him--any dope can be great with a great script and a great director, but Antonio brings that level with EVERYTHING, even the crap.

I mean, look at him in Spy Kids. He's hilarious, he's charming, he's captivating. AND FOR WHAT?

Favorites, Mask of Zorro, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Philadelphia, and as the director of Crazy in Alabama.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

It must be noted that Law of Desire opens at a film festival where the audience is enjoying Duel In the Sun. The murderous erotic heat between Jennifer Jones and Gregory Peck is so intense that Antonio must experience release in the men's room. Now that's a scene.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

This also helped create one of the greatest moments in Madonna's Truth or Dare, don't forget.

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

" Law of Desire" is one of the sexiest movies ever made

April 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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