3.10.05

Matador

Almodovar, 1986
The first act is arresting. The second act bleeds with melodrama. The third act is just plain ridiculous. The question is, how much of this is intent on the part of the filmmaker, and how much is just his taste (or lack thereof). Naturally, the critical studies classmates relish the claim that it's all intentional and you have to understand the simultaneous straight story and parody. I'm not sure when the last scene involves the confluence of an eclipse of the sun and two death-obsessed killers who murder one another at the moment of orgasm. Oh. Maybe I should summarize the plot at this point.
The male killer is a retired matador who was gored by a bull. He now runs a bullfighting school and one of his pupils is the soulful, ambiguously sexed Antonio Banderas. At night the matador watches movies of women getting sliced, decapitated, raped, hung, drown, and, naturally, masturbates the whole time. He has, the film tells us, an erotic obsession with death. Immediately after his introduction, we move to his female counterpart, the feminist lawyer. She finds a willing young man, and brings him home with here. In preparation for this murderous tryst, she kisses him on the back of the neck, leaving an ominous red circle of lipstick. Then, in the throes of passion, she removes what can only be dubbed a smock, revealing a svelt body with a leather bustier that fails to cover anything more than her belly button. They have sex. The removes her hairpin (inexplicably shaped like a treble cleff) and stabs the unwitting man through her red lipstick mark. It's the perfect bullfighting kill: straight through the lungs to the heart. Oh. Then she rides his prone corpse to orgasm.
These are our heros. Meanwhile, Banderas, in an attempt to prove his manhood, tries to rape the matador's girlfriend but quite unsuccessfully. He holds her at corkscrew-point and ejaculates on her legs. She slaps him. As she stalks away, she slips in the mud (it's raining, of course) and cuts her face. He faints at the sight of her blood.
The film follows these sick, sick people, as Banderas confesses to killings perpetrated in reality by the matador and the lawyer. Meanwhile, the matador becomes obsessed with the lawyer. As it turns out, she was present at the bullfight where he was gored. The wheels of the plot turn as the gay police commissioner slowly discovers that Banderas is innocent, and the matador and lawyer are guilty. The two killers arrange a time to meet just as the police, Banderas, and anyone else willing to come along set off in pursuit of our heros. The matador and lawyer take their time with the sexual encounter: they spread bullfighting capes in front of a roaring fire, splash wine on their faces, caress each others' skin with roses, and then begin to go at it as if it's the last thing they'll ever do. And it is. The police entourage arrives just as the lover/killers slay one another at the moment of orgasm. The last line, spoken over the blood red tableau of naked bodies dancing with firelight: "I've never seen anyone so happy." Please.