If you can accept the premise of a sex-addicts group meeting, with equal participation by men and women in mutual therapy, then this is a powerful and taut film; it may keep you awake afterwards trying to rationalise all the elements of the plot. Like much of Spanish film-making recently it combines overt sexual portrayal (though not necessarily on-screen "action") with complex but well-drafted plots that resolve eventually. In this case Victoria Abril is a leading actress too, an alternative from her usual work for Almodóvar. There is a gender-ambiguity running throughout the film, and if you wish to maintain the suspense for yourself, don't read on.
So we are at the sex-addicts self-help group (don't laugh), and Javier (Javier Bardem) is there and he meets up with Miranda (Victoria Abril). No sooner have we got that straight, than we go into a flashback to explain why Javier is there. It is because of an encounter previously with Azucena (incredibly played by the male actor Victor Rueda) when they were both delayed at an airport. Azucena means "Lily". They got talking, and she started to tell him a long story of her life.
She says that she was one of three triplets, but from the start she was different from her two sisters; she was soon much taller and her feet were much larger. The three were divided up as children and she was farmed out to an uncle who turned out to be a big time smuggler in Andorra. The young Azucena is on the left in the image at the railway station.
At this point in her narrative, Azucena goes to the lavatory, after asking Javier's mobile phone number. She rings him and she continues the story by mobile phone, explaining that a local police chief in Andorra desired her sexually, although she was under age; they made an arrangement to go away together and he showed her a grave in a cemetery; it was her grave, and he explained that there had been a mix-up in the hospital when she was born, and she belonged to another family.
At this point Javier decides that she is making up the story to arouse him, and on cue she asks him to tell her a story, which he does.
Azucena now disappears from the plot for a while, but Javier meets up with Miranda, and they get together, and he goes along to the radio station studio where she receives telephone calls for a problem phone-in. In conversation with one of her colleagues, he is lent a tape with sexual fantasy talk on it; it is his own voice, recorded covertly by Azucena. This is volume 7, so evidently this has been going on over a long period.
Miranda and Javier continue sporadic meetings, and one evening by chance Miranda's husband Felix spots them together; this happens exactly at the time when a murdered body has been found, with evidence that loosely links to Javier.
Meanwhile Javier is trying to track down the producer of the tapes using his voice; an old colleague turns out to be the origin of this, and he admits that he was blackmailed into doing it by a strange man called Jacinto Vega, apparently in revenge for Javier having rejected the man's scripts. Jacinto means "Hyacinth".
Felix is trying to get enough evidence against Javier, when two men get killed -- one shoots himself, and the cowardly producer of the sex tapes panics and runs away from policemen and gets killed by a passing car -- in the most convincing car-hit scene I have ever seen.
Felix's boss decides that everything is resolved -- that the two men were involved in a blackmail plot. Javier now has a strange dream sequence, in which he is suddenly telephoned out of the blue by Azucena, and he persuades her to come to his house.
They have sex, but suddenly she transforms into Jacinto, and Javier is horrified and starts to lash out at her. But equally suddenly it is Miranda after all, and he can relax.
There are several Azucenas in the credits; as well as Victor Rueda himself, Natalia Dicenta is credited with having dubbed not only the voice of Azucena but also Jacinto. In addition, we see Azucena as a little girl of about 7 or 8, and again at about 15 or 16. Marina San José is credited as Azucena niña (that is, Azucena as a girl) and she would have been 15 at the time of shooting.
Shona Dwyre was "Doble Azucena", that is, Azucena's double. It has been suggested that this refers to the shot of Azucena leaving home as a child with her sisters, but the attribution of her "double" doesn't really fit that -- wouldn't it be "Azucena chica" or something of the sort. In some shots, Azucena as an adult looks a little different, and -- this is pure speculation -- I wonder if Rueda was indisposed and needed a body double as well as the voice double.
I have been unable to trace any biographical information on Victor Rueda. Azucena has a very slight Adam's apple in the first image on this page, and a more obvious one as Jacinto in the final image. However Rueda's presentation as a female is supreme.
I have put these sequences on Youtube:
|The early sequence, where Rueda as Azucena picks up Victor at the airport; she tells him about herself, with an erotic content, and then talks him into telling her a story over the mobile phone.|
|Late in the film, Rueda calls on Victor's secretary in male mode, trying to get a film script accepted.|
|In a final scene, Azucena seems to visit Victor, and in a confused dream sequence Victor has sex with her -- or is it Miranda? Victor starts to strike out at Azucena, but it is Miranda after all.|
The film's English title is Between Your Legs.
HF June 2008
This Page: Between Your Legs / Entre las piernas
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