Pedro Almodóvar’s controversial 1990 Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was originally rated NC-17 before being released unrated, but, ironically, it was one of the director’s least risqué films to date. A black comedy about the (literal and figurative) bonds of love, it’s an off-kilter – and off-putting – mix of humor, sex, and Stockholm Syndrome obsession that never quite gels into something believable or appealing. Nutjob Ricky (Antonio Banderas, sporting a Norman Bates haircut that goes with Ennio Morricone’s Pyscho-esque stalker theme) escapes from a mental ward and kidnaps B-movie actress (and former porn star and smack addict) Marina (Victoria Abril) because he believes – on the basis of an anonymous one-night fling with her years earlier – that she’ll fall in love with him once she gets to know him. Love does blossom, largely via both of them caring for each other (he cooks her breakfast, she nurses his wounds after he’s beaten up stealing drugs for her), and Almodóvar expertly frames shots with doorways and bedposts to visually convey the couple’s constrictive passion. Still, given Marina’s eventual voluntary submission and the sub-plot about her current acting job (she’s filming a horror film – or is it a romance?), Marina and Ricky’s relationship comes across as some sort of tedious role-playing exercise. There are reasonable gripes to be made about Marina’s degradation and the implication that women like to be controlled and mistreated by men because, you know, the abuse comes from a loving place. But since the film is so preposterous, the whole thing really just feels like a long-winded joke without a punch line.