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Prison story with Fantasy, Reality

by  Judy Stone

Quixotic humor, poignance and fantasy coexist with unique style in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," an absolutely marvelous movie about two men who discover each other’s humanity in a prison cell ... William Hurt gives one of the most inspired performances in recent film history ... In this infinitely rich and multilayered film ... Hector Babenco establishes his stature as a major film maker, able to create a rare enchantment that soars with imagination, yet is grounded in the truth of men’s need for love, self respect and justice. Hurt’s range in this performance is nuanced to perfection as he gradually sheds his self-protective theatricality to reveal a painful vulnerability…Julia maintains an intense reserve that is quietly compelling; their teamwork is a tour de force ... In his masterly balance of such seemingly disparate elements, Babenco has created one of the most entertaining and provocative films in many years, one that generates a profound silence filled with unexpected emotions.