KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN starts within the narrow walls of a Latin American prison cell. Molina (William Hurt) is telling his new cellmate, Valentin (Raul Julia), his favorite story. Molina is a delicate homosexual imprisoned for seducing a minor; Valentin is a bearded revolutionary still bleeding from his interrogation. As they trade stories, each draws a new, surprising level of difference between the two heroes: escapism versus realism, romance versus politics, gay versus straight, hero versus coward. Their unstable friendship grows more real, and their stories become more vivid--whether Molina's fondly remembered Nazi propaganda noir, Valentin's tortured romantic history, or a tropical island fable told merely to pass the time. By the end, each man has changed just enough to taste the other's tragedy--a transformation that gives each the strength to define freedom on his own terms, despite the brutality of the prison and the bleak world beyond its walls. This groundbreaking movie was the first independent film to receive the top four Oscar nominations; William Hurt delivers an Oscar-winning performance in this tribute to the power of film and fantasy as escape from inhumane conditions.
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Ratings and Reviews
Critics Consensus: Kiss of the Spider Woman weaves an alluring exploration of sexual and societal norms that's further elevated by strong work from William Hurt and Raul Julia.