I’ll preface this review of Almodovar’s “Tie Me Up! Tie me down!” (Atame!) (1989), by stating that it is not my favorite from the director. This movie does not have the multitude of interesting characters, locations or interactions between its many players. However, saying that this is not my favourite, it’s still an Almodovar; which is like trying to differentiate between what’s my favourite Talking Heads album… they’re all Talking Heads albums, and therefore all amazing! Lol.
This movie is remarkable because it demonstrates Almodovar’s distinct aesthetic, principally based on the use of color. In this movie, we can definitely see his preference for red, green, blue, yellow, purple and orange.
The story takes place within rooms with red and green walls or blue walls with red curtains. A yellow, blue and red flag is decorating the female lead (Marina’s) apartment. When she calls her mother, she is wearing an orange dress and is sitting on a green chair. But if we pay attention to colors, no one can miss the predominance of the red. I really enjoy how he saturates the movie with this color.
The main characters, Marina and Ricky, are often dressed in red and the phone that Marina uses is red. Almodovar says that for him red is the color representing life and the deepest feelings. It represents passion and fire and for him it also means the taste for risk.
As well, I appreciate Almodovar‘s dark humour, present in this movie. For example, when Ricky, who just kidnapped the love of his life, declares that he “had a difficult night” following all the struggles they’ve had. At the same time, on the wall behind him is a painting of Jesus tending to his sheep. I’m not sure if they’re juxtaposing the acts that Ricky has carried out with the religious symbolism, or suggesting that Ricky is taking care of his “flock”?
Almodovar as a director has the ability to make me laugh and move me deeply at the same time. I can simultaneously be laughing at a character’s misfortunes while feeling deeply sad for their motivations or circumstances. And while Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! may not be my favourite, it’s certainly yet another excellent offering from my favourite director.
Ugo Leonard, “Pedro Almodovar: Un cinéma entre identité nationale et émancipation”, (Master’s thesis, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne-Centre St-Charles, 2013), 15-16, http://dumas.ccsd.cnrs.fr/dumas-00942399/document.