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The Steamy Dark Comedy You Should Probably Stream Alone On Max

Remember when late-night cable television meant watching the sort of films you might not want to watch in a movie theater?  Indeed, there are some movies you just want to watch alone, in the privacy and comfort of your own living room. "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" a Spanish-language comedy with a naughty twist, is now available to stream on Max. And if you're an admirer of Antonio Banderas, his early career performance makes it a must-watch film.

"Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" concerns Ricky (Banderas), a recent mental hospital patient, who, upon being released, seeks out Marina Osorio (Victoria Abril), an actress with whom he had a brief assignation during a previous escape attempt. Ricky is convinced that what he and Marina experienced was true love — the only problem is Marina doesn't even remember him or their one-night stand. Ricky proceeds to hold her hostage in her own apartment, insisting that once she remembers him they will settle down together in happy wedded bliss. She resists, but Stockholm Syndrome settles in, and soon Marina begins to identify — and yes, even fall in love — with her kidnapper.

This is obviously difficult sledding for a dark romantic comedy – and it didn't work for every critic.  Yet the erotic, compelling nature of "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" helped make the names of Banderas and director Pedro Almodóvar, helping them on the path to long, successful cinematic careers.

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! helped get Antonio Banderas American recognition

"Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" was instrumental in getting Antonio Banderas mainstream attention in Hollywood. While he'd begun to pick up notices in the American press for his appearance in Pedro Almodóvar's previous film, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," it was "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" that exposed him to international fame. Almodóvar, who cast Banderas in his first film after seeing him in a stage play, also placed Banderas in two of his previous movies. The collaborators and cohorts would watch their careers blossom in tandem.

After "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" was released, Banderas parlayed the positive critical response to his acting into his first major English-language role as Nestor Castillo in "The Mambo Kings." Further supporting parts in "The House of the Spirits," "Philadelphia," "Miami Rhapsody," and "Interview with the Vampire" led to "Desperado," which launched his career as an action star and leading man.  

Banderas has always had a rounded point of view on the relationship dynamics presented by "Time Me Up! Tie Me Down!" "I remember Pedro telling me that even if a character goes to that extent, we have to make him somehow sympathetic to complete the circle of what a relationship should be. If the character is hideous in the beginning, there is no relationship. There is just somebody abusing somebody else," he told Vulture in 2019, adding that the character's relationship stands as a metaphor for the struggle between men and women.

Banderas' creative relationship with Almodóvar has stretched onward into the 2020s, and they have since worked together on "The Skin I Live In," "I'm So Excited!" and "Pain and Glory."