Between Your Legs Review

The opening sequence of Between Your Legs does a fair job of setting up the rest of the picture. Its events – in which we see a young child stab her father as he has torrid sex with the babysitter – may not have much bearing on those which are to come, but it does tell us a number of important things. Its enigmatic qualities (there is no exposition as such), the fact that it’s revealed to be a flashback (the first of many) and the sexual content all point the film in the direction of film noir Spanish style. Indeed, much is the same as the US model, though the various undercurrents – especially those of a sexual nature – become more overt, whilst the film begins bursting with colour only to increasingly darken as the plot grows ever more complex.

There also happens to be another, much bigger influence, however, and that comes courtesy of a certain Mr. Hitchcock. Had the rest of Between Your Legs not been so controlled, then no doubt we would be accusing the Saul Bass-ian credit sequence, blatantly modelled on Vertigo, of being a complete and utter rip-off. Yet the pastiche is important as it allows director Manuel Gómez Pereira to set up a number of themes. Indeed, not only is the score infusing every tiny moment with a sense of anxiety and suspense, but it’s also furthering the connections with Vertigo (to such an extent that we keep expecting the Herrmann-esque harps to appear far higher in the mix). Without having to do too much, Pereira is telling us that this film is as much about identity, and the nature of identity, as it is about the sex.

Not that this is some throwaway erotic thriller as hopefully the cast list will testify. Yet what’s interesting about the presence of Javier Bardem and Victoria Abril in the lead roles is not so much the class they bring to the production, but the manner in which their big screen personas have been subverted. In keeping with the noir template the pair are far more fragile than we are generally used to seeing. Indeed, though they are both playing sex addicts, Bardem is shorn of the more overtly macho tendencies which characterised Golden Balls, say, or Perdita Durango, whilst Abril possesses a nervousness which seems completely alien when placed alongside her roles in Lovers, for example, or Gazon maudit.

So what of the plot itself? After all, this is the key element upon which Between Your Legs will ultimately succeed or fail. In all honesty it’s one which is difficult to describe. Working with a Chinese box level of complexity, it takes almost a full hour before the audience can truly find their feet. Rather we are offered little snatches of information which may or may not bear any significance – the trouble is that the scoring is pitched at such a level of intensity that everything seems to be important and as such we are required to stay alert throughout. With this in mind it is best simply to reveal some of these details in no particular order and hopefully whet a few appetites. We find, for example, a mysterious taxi driver; a cop on the run; Bardem’s phone sex “conversations” being distributed through an underground network of cassette exchanges; a plane crash; and an abundance of simple twists of fate. All in all, it adds up to a classy little thriller deserving of some attention. Certainly, it’s not a particularly groundbreaking work, but then it makes for an agreeable two hours entertainment whilst the complexities of its plotting call for at least one repeat viewing.

The Disc

Between Your Legs comes to the UK DVD market in decent enough condition. We get the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, anamorphically enhanced and in its original Spanish language (with optional English subtitles). In both cases, the presentation is technically fine – the disc copes well with the muted colour scheme of the film’s later stages, whilst there’s also a DD5.1 remix for those inclined towards a more expansive treatment. Certainly, the latter sounds especially fine when handling Bernardo Bonezzi’s score.

As for extras, these can’t quite maintain the quality, though it is likely that we’re getting the best available. As such these amount to a 19-minute ‘making of’ featurette of the standard EPK-style variety, a photo gallery (of production stills and posters) and a handful of trailers including one for Gwendoline, Just Jaekin’s cult eighties extravaganza due for a future release from Nucleus Films. It’s also worth noting that some sights are listing Between Your Legs as being available with a free CD. However, having gotten in touch with Nucleus themselves, this has been revealed to be an error and the various sites should correct the mistake in due course.

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Last updated: 07/05/2018 06:09:31

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