Atame: first thoughts (one day later)

I recently watched, at the recommendation of a friend, the MadTV mashup of Grey's Anatomy and House. The Greys' anatomy part of it was funny enough, but rather obvious (and let's face it, the show isn't exactly hard to mock) but there was a line that stuck. To paraphrase: Grey's Anatomy is a show written for women by women. House is a show written by men for women who like abusive men.

What does that make Atame? A movie written by a gay man for?

Not gay men exclusively, I'm fairly certain. Sure, the set design couldn't be more campy, but the central pairing couldn't be more heterosexual, and while I'm sure any gay men likes looking at Antoinio Banderas (so young here, so young...) as much as the next girl, I'm sure they're not the only target. But then, who is?

My dad liked it, but mostly for the style and photography: he thought the "message" (I highly doubt there is one intended) was too misogynist, as in his view the movie argued the way to make a woman love you was to hit her and tie me up. My mother (A "new conservative" according to some web test, though she vehemently denies it) liked it to, though she thought it was a little weird.

As for me? Well, what can I say, I have a huge crush on House.

I think that of the three early Almodovar films I've seen (the others being Matador and Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios), this might be my favorite. I like Mujeres a lot, but it does get so silly at the end that it kind of loses its heart, and in my eyes it is a little contemptuous of some of its characters. I loved Matador, but I'm not sure the conclusion worked. This film, while there are some clear weak spots to be found, enchanted me, maybe because it's so Hitchcockian, but at the same time so much more free and fun.

Hitchcock said something along the lines that our should film every love scene like a murder, and every murder like a love scene. In this film, likewise, it's never quite clear whether a scene will end in sex or death. In Matador, this was the point of the whole film, but in Atame, it's a little more subtle, and a lot more relatable.

The obvious Hitchcockian parralel to this film is of course another favorite of mine: Marnie. In both films, we have the damaged, fierce woman who a man with a violent streak tries to tame. Almodovar does Hitchcock one better here though: not only does the woman here get set free only to come back willingly, but it's even the case that when she finally gives in (and even somewhat before that) she's the one in control. Marnie is a very racy film, but it never dares to go that far, to transcend gender roles and expectations quite so much.

With Hitchcock films, I always get the feeling he must have been quite the kinky guy, but still repressed in a way (hey, he couldn't help it, he was british, after all). With Almodovar, I get the feeling he's not only fascinated by the kinky side of humanity, but that he also has a deep understanding of it.

As an aside: the tiny man, huge woman image he revisited in Hable Con Ella is also present here.

Whatever the case, I'm glad there are still more old films of his to discover (La ley del deseo, in particular, but also Tacones Lejanos (High Heels) and Carne Tremula), and that we can look forward to many of his more mature entries like Volver also.

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