Labyrinth of Passion Review

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On the back of his glitzier successes, a steady stream of early Almodovar works have now been resurrected (Matador and Pepi Luci Bom . . . ) and while this sprawling 1982 effort will amuse the completists, it is in fact a rather lame and tedious affair, relying heavily on gauche caricatures and base humour.

We know full well that Almodovar is obsessed with sex, and the freakier the better, so there's little shock value in this psychologically clumsy love story of Sexilia, a nymphomaniac who falls for the gay heir to an Arab empire and is played by Roth with a degree of zest aspiring to total apathy. Her therapist is, understandably, extremely helpful, constantly expressing a desire to bed her father, while her friends suffer incestuous advances as if they are mild irritations and join hopeless rock bands who sing about sex with rats and the luxury of paranoia.

Wrapped around this grey farce there is an attempt at a little colourful irony, but it isn't enough to revive the interest in any way. The portly director appears as a sleazy transvestite chanteuse crooning "Sewer love, drain love, rubbish love," and if that's your idea of fun you may consider such lines as "I went to an orgy but I kept thinking of you" to be the pinnacle of true romance. For most normal folk, however, the interesting things about the self-styled maverick of Madrid are the movies he is able to make now, not those he produced along the way.