Having recently seen the sumptuous and flawless "Hable Con Ella" I immediately tracked down this film wishing to see more of Almodovars brilliance. However, whilst acknowledging that this is a much earlier work and taking that into account I was maybe still expecting too much if I hoped it would be in the same league as the later film.
Antonio Banderas plays a confused young man, filled with self doubt and insecurity unable to see blood without fainting, still a virgin and tormented by his devout, overbearing and sanctimonious mother. The doubt expressed about his heterosexuality by his morbidly obsessed bullfighting teacher leads to a string of unfortunate events. Banderas's character tries and fails to rape the girlfriend of his tutor resulting in further humiliation and self doubt which leads to his confessing to numerous murders he didn't commit.
With the introduction of a sexy defence attourney, who is equally morbidly obsessed as the matador the plot becomes burdened with trying to unravel itself to a resonably predictable ending, and despite some moments of brilliance both with the script and the film making, it fails to shock in the way it was intended.
Sex and violence are the central tenets here and the relationship between bullfighting and both is explored, bringing the conclusion that both matador and afficionado, having made it such a part of their lives, are unable to live with or without death.
There's a simplicity to the story that belies Almodovars brilliance and I'd certainly say that after making this he went on to greater things. However, while it's not for the faint hearted or squeamish, and there are many flaws in the story
as a whole, it still knocks seven bells out of most of Hollywoods output.