BETWEEN YOUR LEGS (Entre las piernas)
(director/writer/producer: Manuel Gómez Pereira; screenwriters: Yolanda García Serrano/Juan Luis Iborra/from the novel by Joaquín Oristrell; cinematographer: Juan Amorós; editor: José Salcedo; music: Bernardo Bonezzi/Carlos Gómez; cast: Victoria Abril (Miranda), Javier Bardem (Javier), Carmelo Gómez (Félix), Juan Diego (Jareño), Sergi López (Claudio), Javier Albalá (Juancar), María Adánez (Juani), Dafne Fernández (Celia), Víctor Rueda (Azucena/Jacinto Vega), Salvador Madrid (Inspector Jefe), Blanca Apiláñez (Carola), Angels Bassas (Lola); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joaquin Oristrell; Columbia TriStar; 1999-Spain/France, in Spanish with English subtitles)
“The luscious Abril and the appealing Bardem give first-class performances and manage to make a go of this implausible and overwritten thriller.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Manuel Gómez Pereira directs and co-writes a sharply drawn thriller based on Joaquín Oristrell’s novel. It’s styled in nail-biting suspense much like Hitchcock’s Vertigo and also filled with social sexual satire akin to fellow countryman Pedro Almodovar’s films. Between Your legs is set in present day Madrid, where cellphones are employed as the prop that makes this story ring loud and clear. Miranda (Victoria Abril) is a telephone screener for a radio talk show program, who is married to a loving homicide detective husband Félix (Carmelo Gómez) and has a pampered adolescent daughter Celia. At night Miranda habitually walks her dog Domingo and can’t resist picking up men for quick sex. Javier (Javier Bardem) is a respected screenwriter and television producer, who is hooked on phone sex. His business partner Claudio (Sergi López) is having an affair with his wife Lola, as she is repelled by him after his unauthorized fantasy sex tapes are circulating in the city. Miranda and Javier meet while attending a group therapy session for sex addicts, which is much like an AA meeting where they relate their addiction story to the group and admit to being sick so that they can get back to being their old selves.
Miranda and Javier find they have so much in common that they can’t resist each other, and one night after their session they use a car parked in a city garage to have a romp in the back seat. That car is discovered later on to have an unidentified murdered corpse in the trunk. Felix is placed in charge of the homicide investigation at the same time he discovers his wife is having an affair with Javier, whom he suspects is the murderer after tracing the car to his studio.
There’s an incredulous subplot of Felix’s detective pal Jareño visiting his wife Carola in the hospital, after she escapes with her life from a plane crash. He knows she was meeting her lover, but is willing to forgive her until she mockingly laughs at him and insults his manhood. Jareño then opens fire killing her with his service revolver. He escapes only to turn up in Felix’s apartment to commit suicide with his colleague’s gun. Felix’s boss finds this odd, and fearful of a public scandal he grounds Felix from further duty. But Felix is so dead-set in getting back his wife and proving that Javier is a murderer, that against orders he goes to question the suspect in his studio office.
The plot twists begin to come in droves as several hazy subplots are introduced in part 2: there’s a blackmail scheme uncovered, a transvestite story in the making, a trail of revenge that leads from a lousy screenwriter whose scripts were rejected by Javier, a growing tale built around the airplane crash and of two passengers who missed that flight, and there’s that story about why Javier’s hot phone sex tapes are being so widely circulated. It was just too much plot, as the story became a mess.
The luscious Abril and the appealing Bardem give first-class performances and manage to make a go of this implausible and overwritten thriller. It was hard to get emotional about anything in this quirky story about lonely people who have to leap through flames to find each other. In the end, the narrative seemed to have nothing between its ears but charm.
REVIEWED ON 10/26/2003 GRADE: B-