VULTURE'S AUTOPSY OF 'TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!'
Just yesterday, a day in which the CW played an episode of Riverdale with the title "Body Double", Nashville Scene's Jason Shawhan linked Brian De Palma's Body Double to Pedro Almodóvar's newest film, Julieta. It turns out that on that same day, William Penix posted his last column for The Vulture Autopsies, in which he linked an older Almodóvar film, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, to De Palma's Body Double:
For younger viewers previously unfamiliar with Almodóvar – it should be noted this is the first film of his I’ve seen – you’ll find that his visual sense is strongly akin to Wes Anderson in his use of garish color palettes to make the mise-en-scène pop and purposefully call attention to the focal points of the frame. But while most cases of Anderson’s use of color bears some semblance of uniformity, Almodóvar’s in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down goes all over the map with light and vibrant hues of blue, green, red and orange. It’s a purposeful clash that draws our attention, tells us where to look and exists as a visual rebellion, of sorts.
It may bear the mark of the decade it left behind, but so does Ennio Morricone’s curious score. In what can only be described as electronic camp, Morricone’s compositions bounce in and out between the romantic and the sinister, often to the confusion of audience members as the film is in the early stages of labeling Banderas’s Ricky as an amorous man or unbalanced sociopath. But, the amalgamation of production design and score is key here, and in fact is reminiscent of Brian De Palma’s work, particularly 1984’s Body Double.
Almodóvar uses both similarly in their respective conflicts with the film’s tone, and derives most of the film’s humor from those contradictions. There are a few instances when Almodóvar’s irreverently pitch black humor is made explicit in the language, but he’d much rather emotionally unsettle his viewers by, for instance, having Banderas’s Ricky carry a bound and gagged Marina (Abril) across the threshold amidst the most dazzling array of reds and blues. It isn’t just the context of the scene that’s uncomfortable, but arguably, it’s the choice of color that makes this feeling even more pronounced.
That sort of responsibility is what speaks to Almodóvar’s cunningly sensitive direction, as well as José Luis Alcaine’s cinematography. The aesthetics never make the premise any less disturbing, but rather heighten our discomfort at their deliberate opposition.