Law of Desire

1987 | LGBTQ | In Spanish with English subtitles | 102 minutes


Law of Desire focuses on a love triangle between three men and the conflicts with a disturbed transsexual woman. Living in Madrid, Pablo, is a successful gay film and theatrical director. At an opening night party for one of his films, Pablo suggests that his young lover Juan spend the summer  in the south while he remains in Madrid. Pablo is exceptionally close to his transsexual sister Tina, a struggling actress. Tina’s lesbian lover just abandoned her but the lover left behind her ten-year-old daughter, Ada. Pablo looks after both of them. In fact, he writes a play for Tina. At the play’s opening night, Pablo meets Antonio, an admiring fan of his work. They are attracted to each other and have sex. For Pablo, it’s merely a fling. His true love is Juan. Antonio is furious that his love for Pablo is not reciprocated. Antonio hears about Juan. He encounters Juan and throws him off a cliff.  Pablo drives down to see his dead lover. He realizes Antonio murdered Juan. In a rage, he drives off and has a horrific car accident. In the hospital, Tina reveals to Pablo her traumatic experiences with their father and her sex change operation. She also tells Pablo that her new lover is Antonio.  Painfully, Pablo realizes that a relationship like this, between Tina and Antonio, is sure to end badly.

Eusebio Poncela (Pablo) / Carmen Maura (Tina) / Antonio Banderas (Antonio) / Miguel Molina (Juan)
Why Stream This Film?
Almodóvar’s films have many twists and turns and this one is no exception. But Law of Desire is breathtakingly original and puts Almodóvar in the pantheon of great film directors.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100
  • Rio de Janeiro Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festival: Best Director (Pedro Almodovar)
  • San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival: Best Film
  • Berlin International Film Festival: Teddy Award

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Almodóvar’s tone is not like anyone else’s; the film has the exaggerated plot of an absurdist Hollywood romance, and even when it loses its beat there’s always something happening. This director manages to joke about the self-dramatizing that can go on at the movies, and t the same time reactivate it. The  film is festive. It doesn’t disguise its narcissism; it turns it into bright-colored tragicomedy.
Pauline Kael

The New Yorker

What ensues is a fairly conventional story of sexual intrigue and danger, made infinitely more complicated by the colorful personalities of all concerned. What it lacks in depth, LAW of DESIRE makes up in surface energy, with a lively cast, a turbulent plot and a textbook-worthy collection of case histories.
Janet Maslin

The New York Times

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