I'm sick. I'm a sexual addict, and I need help.
For the first 45 minutes of this Spanish film, I was lost. Was it the subtitles? Was it a confusing movie? Was it that I'm lacking that frame of reference to grasp and understand Spanish cinema?
It was none of the above.
Entre las Piernas, or Between Your Legs for those of you who skipped Spanish 101, is a movie that thinks it's crafting a complex tale, but it's just making a mess of what little it has. Though constantly flicking down to the bottom of the screen to read subtitles doesn't help you watch every nuance of the film, this wasn't my problem. Nor was it any lack of understanding of Spanish culture. It was that Piernas is a confusing movie because it's trying to do too much. It's trying to weave a complex tapestry of character interaction in hopes of startling you in the final minutes with that elusive surprise ending, which usually misses the mark.
Entre las Piernas is a dark, erotic tale that focuses on a man and a woman who meet in a sexaholics anonymous meeting. They know they shouldn't mingle after the seminar, but there's instant chemistry between the two. Each is married, and neither of their spouses knows the full extent of their sexual addictions. Javier (Javier Bardem, The Dancer Upstairs) needs to talk during sex and often weaves fantastic tales during phone sex. Miranda (Victoria Abril, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!) loves to meet up with strangers and have sex in public. These two find solace in each other and soon find themselves in an intimate encounter in a car in a parking garage. What they don't realize is that there's a dead body in the trunk of that car, a body that will eventually lead to their downfall. As is movie coincidence, Miranda's husband is the policeman investigating the murder. Almost immediately in his inspection, he realizes Miranda is cheating on him, has in fact cheated on him in that car, and, because of this, he is going to set up Javier for the murder. Through a series of twists and turns and intriguing coincidence, Javier does have a connection to the deceased.
The movie works to be far more complicated by introducing us to the policemen, his friends, Javier's coworkers, Miranda's coworkers, and people that Javier and Miranda have previously had some fun with. We also are confused as the movie skips back and forth across time without any clear indication of when events take place. This is why I was lost during those first 45 minutes.
But when you finally begin to piece everything together, you realize that Piernas is not all that exciting of a film. It's nothing special. It's just another in a long line of rather simple murder mysteries. It presents nothing we haven't seen already; the story doesn't weave a masterful new mystery; and the surprise ending has been seen before. It's yet another case of "been there, done that."
What does somewhat separate Piernas from other films is its focus on sexual addiction. This brings a little darker tone to the film. Instead of being sexy nymphomaniacs, Javier and Miranda are sick and addicted individuals who are trying to find help to curb their unhealthy urges. Sex is not glamorized or shown romantically. In every instance, sex is shown as a rough and aggressive act. There's no love when any couple gets together, and much actual physical and emotional pain is shown as a result. But this dirty layer isn't enough to cover the typical nature of the rest of the film.
TLA Releasing has put out a line of "International Film Festival" discs, of which Entre las Piernas is one. This disc is bare bones except for a handful of trailers for other movies in this line: The Bathers, Km.O, Children of Hannibal, Suicide Club, Possible Loves, and Between Your Legs. The packaging doesn't detail the video ratio, but my best guess is that it is approximately 2.35:1 and is not anamorphic. Overall, the print is soft, with some occasional flecks of dirt and minor artifacting and pixelization. Your audio choice is a very nice Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish mix, which has very good separation over the two channels and some nice bass. The movie is subtitled in English, which cannot be turned off.
Lastly, the surprise ending does actually have a slight moment of surprise to it. It is nicely crafted and you don't see it coming, but once it's realized, it's nothing significant. However, the use of shifting through time is also employed here, which only complicates the resolution of the film. You're left asking, when did this happen?
Entre las Piernas is a nicely acted, well-directed (by Manuel Gómez Pereira) and capably produced film, but, sadly, it doesn't feel any different from any release put out by Hollywood.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: TLA Releasing
• Trailers for The Bathers, Km.O, Children of Hannibal, Suicide Club, Possible Loves, and Between Your Legs
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