Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
Time has not been kind to this once hailed drama about the friendship developing between a revolutionary (Raul Julia) and a gay semi drag queen (William Hurt) in the prison cell they share in Brazil. Prison was well-known territory for director Hector Babenco at the time (at least artistically), after he had reaped rave reviews for his film Pixote about juvenile delinquents and corrupt law enforcement officers four years earlier. But despite hints of poetic realism, the sets in Kiss of the Spider Woman feel more like theatre stages than actual prison premises, and in the midst of recitings of tacky Nazi propaganda films and the sometimes forced development of Julia and Hurt's friendship, Babenco's intended dramatic effect must fight hard to make more of an impression than the somewhat artificial and stagy. The film also has some dubious moralistic undertones which take away some of its merit: Hurt seems to grow less gay the more serious the proceedings get. With that said, William Hurt's performance still is very much impressive. He is able to insert nuances into an otherwise archetypical portrayal of a homosexual. And it is he who produces the film's best moments.