The Academy Award winning independent classic Kiss of the Spider Woman got a suitable DVD release from City Light Home Entertainment and I suggest you pick this one up. Even if you aren’t completely enticed, you should be gratified to behold such tailor-made material.

The story follows the complicated relationship of two cellmates, imprisoned in Latin America, who have different views on life. As a way of escaping from realism, a lonely homosexual named Luis Molina (William Hurt) tells his straight cellmate, Vallentin Arregui (Raul Julia), of a movie he is fond of. This builds emotional intensity and leads to a growing relationship between two opposites and an unlikely friendship. Directed by Hector Babenco and based on a novel written by Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman is worth viewing at least once.

Indeed, this is a well-rounded film, beautifully shot, magnificently acted, and sharply directed. However, enjoyment was pretty much scarce. This is a movie surely worthy of critical acclaim, but not very appealing in the sense of entertainment. It is about as pleasant as listening to two cellmates exchanging stories with one another. So, while Kiss of the Spider Woman is more thought-provoking than entertaining, it’s still powerful stuff.

While William Hurt’s earnest and grounded performance as the confused homosexual is clearly the highlight of the film, a remarkable performance by Raul Julia deserves nearly just as much acclaim. Kiss of the Spider Woman isn’t great, nor is it completely interesting. On the other hand, it was daring for its time and featured some really incredible performances to savor.

This is an offbeat, ambitious, and timeless tale of fantasy and escapism with strong affection for its characters. It’s a rare film that makes its mark in history as the first independent film to ever receive the top four Oscar Nominations, including Best Picture.

Amongst all the boredom (and undeniably, there is quite a bit of it) is a masterpiece in disguise. A minor gem of filmmaking can be scoped out within the directing and acting. This is a film with enough elements in their topmost form to keep critics cheering, but leaves casual movie-goers rather drained emotionally. While, personally, it wasn’t my cup of tea, I do recommend it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it to experience firsthand William Hurt’s Academy Award winning performance. 3/5 stars

This collection contains plenty to behold for those who truly found this to be a masterpiece. Disk one’s special features include a trivia track in both English and Spanish and the original theatrical trailer. Disk two includes “Manuel Puig Mini-Documentary: The Submissive Woman’s Role”, “Spider Woman On Broadway: Mini-Documentary with Hal Prince, John Kander, Fred Ebb, Chita Rivera, Terrence McNally, and Manuel Puig”, “Slide Show Commentary: Transition from Novel to Film”, and “Photo Galleries: Over 150 Exquisite Images”.