Law of Desire – La Ley del Deseo (1987)

Law of Desire - La Ley del Deseo (1987)

Pablo and Tina have complicated sexual lives. Pablo writes and directs plays and films; he’s gay and deeply in love with Juan, a young man who won’t reply to Pablo’s affection or letters. Pablo’s sibling Tina is a transsexual, angry at men, raising Ada, and trying to make it as an actress.

Pablo takes up with Antonio, a youth who becomes jealous of Pablo’s love for Juan. Antonio seeks out Juan, and violence leads to Pablo’s grief and a temporary loss of memory. When memory returns, he learns that Antonio has taken up with Tina. In horror, he hurries to Tina’s rescue and must face Antonio and his desire.

Law of Desire or La ley del deseo (in original Spanish) is a 1987 film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Starring Eusebio Poncela as Pablo, Carmen Maura as Tina and Antonio Banderas as Antonio. It was the first film Almodóvar made independently with his own production company El Deseo.

The story focuses on a complex love triangle between three men. Pablo, a successful gay film director, disappointed in his relationship with his young lover, Juan, concentrates in a new project, a monologue starring his transsexual sister, Tina. Antonio, an uptight young man, falls possessively in love with the director and in his passion would stop at nothing to obtain the object of his desire. The relationship between Pablo and Antonio is at the core of the film, however, the story and own drama of Pablo’s sister, Tina, plays a strong aspect to the plot.

Shot in the later part of 1986, Law of Desire was Almodóvar’s first work centered in homosexual relationships. He considers Law of Desire the key film in his life and career. It follows the more serious tone set by Almodóvar’s previous film, Matador, exploring the unrestrained force of desire. It explores issues of love, loss, gender, family, sexuality and the close link between life and art.

Law of Desire - La Ley del Deseo (1987)

About the Story

Pablo Quintero is a successful gay film and theatrical director whose latest work, The Paradigms of the Mussel, has just been released. At the opening night party, he discusses with his much younger lover, Juan, their summer plans. Pablo would stay in Madrid working on a new project, while Juan would leave for his hometown in the south to work in a bar and stay with his family. Pablo is in love with Juan, but he realizes that his love is not returned with the intensity he desires.

Pablo is very close to his transsexual sister Tina, a struggling actress. Tina has recently been abandoned by her lesbian lover, a model, who left her in charge of her ten-year-old daughter Ada. Frustrated in her relationship with men, Tina dedicates her time to Ada, being a loving surrogate mother.

The precocious Ada does not miss her cold mother. She is happier living with Tina and spending time with Pablo, with whom she has a childish crush on. Tina, Ada and Pablo form an unusual family knit. Pablo looks after them both. For his next project, Pablo writes an adaptation of Cocteau’s monologue-play The Human Voice, to be performed by his sister.

At the play’s opening night, Pablo meets Antonio, a young man who has been obsessed with the director since he watched the gay theme film The Paradigms of the Mussel. At the end of the evening they go home together and have sex. For Antonio this is his first homosexual experience, while Pablo considers it just a lusty episode. Pablo is still in love with his long-time lover Juan. Antonio misunderstands Pablo’s intentions and takes their encounter as a relationship. He soon reveals his possessive behavior as a lover.

Antonio comes across a love letter addressed to Pablo, signed by Juan, but which in fact was written by Pablo to himself. The letter makes Antonio falls into a jealous rage, but he has to return to his native Andalusia where he lives with his domineering German mother. As he promised, Pablo sends Antonio a letter signed Laura P, the name of a character inspired but his sister in a script he is writing. In his letter, Pablo tells Antonio that he loves Juan and intends to join him.

However, Antonio, who is jealous and wants to get rid of Juan, gets there first. Antonio wants to possess everything that belong to Pablo and tries to have sex with Juan. When Juan rebukes his advances, Antonio throws him off a cliff. After killing his rival, Antonio quickly heads up for his hometown. Pablo becomes a suspect of the crime because the police has found in Juan’s fist a piece of clothing that matches a distinctive shirt owned by Pablo. In fact, Antonio was wearing and exact replica when he killed Juan.

Law of Desire - La Ley del Deseo Movie Poster (1987)

Law of Desire – La Ley del Deseo (1987)

Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Eusebio Poncela, Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Miguel Molina, Fernando Guillén, Manuela Velasco, Bibiana Fernández, Helga Liné, Marta Fernández Muro
Screenplay by: Pedro Almodóvar
Cinematography by: Ángel Luis Fernández
Film Editing by: José Salcedo
Costume Design by: José María de Cossío
Art Direction by: Javier Fernández
Music by: Bernardo Bonezzi
MPAA Rating: NC-17 for a scene of explicit sexual content.
Distributed by: Cinevista
Release Date: February 7, 1987