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Almodovar's Labyrinth revels in explosion of excess

LABYRINTH OF PASSION

Written & directed by Pedro Almodovar.

Starring Cecilia Roth, Imanol Arias, Helga Line, Marta Fernandez-Muro, Angel Alcazar, Antonio Banderas, and Augustin Almodovar.

At the Coolidge Corner Theater.

[ah]

By MANAVENDRA K. THAKUR

PEDRO ALMODOVAR is well-known for his films about gay love affairs that turn violent, lovers who skewer each other with swords to experience the "ultimate orgasm," and women who are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Back in 1982, he was making even more outrageous films, like Labyrinth of Passion, which features a runaway steamroller of a plot, a nymphomaniac who has a frigid psychologist for a father, a gay Arab prince who falls in love with an Iranian terrorist whose compatriots all want to kill the prince, a young woman whose father confuses her for her mother and rapes her every couple of days, and on and on and on.

Plot summaries? Where Pedro Almodovar was going in 1982, he didn't need plot summaries.

Suffice it to say in 1982 Almodovar was still reveling in the explosion of excess that accompanied newly-found freedom in Spain after Generalissimo Franco's death in 1975. This makes for a whirlwind of a ride, but like Almodovar's 1984 film Dark Habits (whose humor basically consisted of watching nuns snort cocaine, have sex and do other naughty things), Labyrinth of Passion does occasionally go unnecessarily overboard. What else can be expected in a film where the director dons punk-style clothes, climbs a stage and belts out songs with lyrics like, "Looking for your warmth, I went down to the sewers, and the rats gave me their love?"

But no one should take this film too seriously. It's all very silly stuff and makes for (surprise!) a very silly time.