Nacho Martinez plays a lame former bullfighter who longs for the thrill of sex that ends in murder; Assumpta Serna plays a successful criminal lawyer with related sexual predilections and a comparable list of corpses to her credit. With a nod to the last scene of Duel in the Sun, Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodovar builds his grisly black-comedy melodrama around these two, using a more innocent couple (Antonio Banderas and Eva Cobo) as contrast; Almodovar himself plays a bit part as a fashion designer. This 1986 film is one of Almodovar’s better features, although, like many of the others, it partially plays the role of popularizing stronger stuff (in this case, Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses), and resorts to some contrived plot devices (including mental telepathy and a solar eclipse) in order to fuse its diverse story elements. Nevertheless, Almodovar manages to do something fairly interesting and watchable with his material. In Spanish with subtitles. NC-17, 102 min. (JR)

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