Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review
Ricki (Antonio Banderas, in his fifth collaboration with Pedro Almodóvar) sits down with his doctor, who informs him he is ready to rejoin society. “You’re free, Ricky,” she says, but she’s quick to point out he is still not a normal person.
Ricki, a 23-year-old kleptomaniac, is excited to be deemed fit for the outside world after spending years in a psychiatric hospital. He steps off the sidewalk and immediately sets out for Marina (Victoria Abril, who earned her fifth Goya Award nod for her performance), a former porn star and current B-movie actress currently appearing in a horror flick. Ricki tracks her down at a nearby film studio, where he can’t help but go through purses and try on an outrageous wig.
Marina goes to her apartment to change before the wrap party. So, too, does Ricki, who forces his way in and head butts her when she screams. It’s not long before he has her handcuffed and in on his intentions to marry her. In other words, he’ll tie her up to tie her down. It’s a demented plan, but then Marina actually begins to fall for her captor.
Marina’s developed passion could be one of the reasons that TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! (ATAME! in its native Spanish) was stamped with an X rating upon release. (Other reasons would include, of course, the level of nudity and Marina’s using a toy scuba diver as a masturbatory aid, to name just two.) But hasn’t the idea been explored many times before, even to children? TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! is, at its heart (although many would argue it doesn’t have one), an examination not of sex and kink but of Stockholm Syndrome and bride kidnapping, which had been explored in the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST tale (the Disney version of which was in production when Almodóvar’s film was released) and MGM musical SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.
TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!, not unlike BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, is a twisted story with some off-kilter characters. But it knows what it wants to be and owns it completely. It’s easy to be turned off by this sort of behavior and repulsed by the results, but Almodóvar (1986’s MATADOR, 1988’s WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN; TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! was his eighth feature in just over a decade) doesn’t seem to care. He set out to make exactly what viewers see on the screen and that’s part of what make his films so appealing, even when they’re not.
The chemistry between the leads is top-notch, with Abril offering a textured turn and Banderas giving a performance that would help lead him to Hollywood (he would appear in THE MAMBO KINGS two years later and land roles in films by Jonathan Demme, Neil Jordan and Robert Rodriguez shortly after). Accompanying the story and stars are the colorful cinematography by frequent Almodóvar collaborator José Luis Alcaine and a fairly erotic score by Ennio Morricone.
TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. “This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35 mm original camera negative at Deluxe Madrid, where the film was also restored, under the supervision of director Pedro Almodóvar and executive producer Agustin Almodóvar.”
Although a 4K transfer would have been welcomed, this 2K transfer is still quite strong and presents fine details and popping colors for the duration, showing off the costumes, set design and excellent José Luis Alcaine cinematography.
Audio: Spanish 5.1 Surround. Subtitles in English. “The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35 mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 3.”
Also stellar is the audio transfer, as it boasts clean dialogue and an often sexy Ennio Morricone score.
Untied! Reflection on TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! (28:16): This featurette looks at the production of TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!, with comments from director Pedro Almodóvar, stars Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril, Loles León and Rossy de Palma, producer Agustín Almodóvar, production manager Esther García and cinematographer José Luis Alcaine.
Pedro and Antonio (26:13): This 2003 piece sees Almodóvar and Banderas sitting down to discuss TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!, as well as the director’s style and the star’s move to Hollywood.
Michael Barker (14:57): Sony Pictures Classics co-founder Barker shares his thoughts on Almodóvar’s films and working with the director.
“Resistiré” (4:00): Cast and crew perform the song (which was featured in the film’s final scene) at the Madrid premiere.
Also included with this Criterion Collection release is a 24-page booklet featuring a 1990 piece about the film by Pedro Almodóvar, a conversation between critic Kent Jones and filmmaker Wes Anderson and an interview with Almodóvar from 1989.