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Kiss of the Spider Woman

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Kiss of the Spider Woman

Starring: William Hurt, Raul Julia
Director: Hector Babenco
Rated: R
RunTime: 119 Minutes
Release Date: August 1985
Genres: Drama, Gay/Lesbian

*Also starring: Sonia Braga, Jose Lewgoy, Milton Goncalves, Miriam Pires, Nuno Leal Maia

Review by Brian Koller
3½ stars out of 4

Department of remarkable coincidences: of the four films that Sonia Braga and Raul Julia have both appeared in, in three of them they both received Golden Globe nominations, while not receiving any Academy Award nominations. "Moon over Parador" was over-rated, while "The Burning Season" was made for TV. There are no such excuses for an Oscar snub for "Kiss of the Spider Woman". While William Hurt received his only Best Actor Oscar, Raul Julia gives an equally outstanding performance.

Of course, Hurt had the more challenging role. He plays a homosexual who fantasizes about being a glamorous woman, while imprisoned in an South American country for 'corrupting' a minor. His cellmate is political prisoner Raul Julia, who is devoted almost completely to his cause of overthrowing the despotic government.

At first, Julia detests his effeminate, flirtatious cellmate, who insists on retelling and embellishing a Nazi propaganda film that he once saw. (This film stars Braga, who also plays Julia's lover.) However, Hurt's kindness to Julia gradually leads to their friendship.

Hurt was well cast. His facial expressions are perfect for conveying the deeply felt emotions of his character, and never falls into the easy trap of making the role campy. Julia's rage and despair are also well delivered, and there are strong supporting performances by Jose Lewgoy and Milton Goncalves, who play malevolent government agents.

"Kiss of the Spider Woman" also received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Hector Babenco), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Leonard Schrader).

Copyright 1995 Brian Koller

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