August 01, 1988 12:00 PM

Spanish writer-director Pedro (Law of Desire) Almodovar proves himself a virtuoso of sexual violence. A lame torero (Nacho Martinez) and a lady lawyer (Assumpta Serna) raptly watch the 1946 Hollywood Western Duel in the Sun, in which Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones gun each other down and then embrace in a mortal clinch. Martinez and Serna believe the ultimate orgasm can only result with a partner’s death. In a parody of the matador, Serna skewers her bedmates with a hairpin. Talk about fatal attractions. The film is fiercely funny, executed in a reckless, raucous rage by the most wantonly gifted new filmmaker on the international scene. Almodovar relishes mocking his country’s sacred cows. But his ridicule resonates beyond the sex-death obsessions of the bullring. Almodovar assaults the emotions. He makes of passion a bleeding art. (Not rated, in Spanish with English subtitles)

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