Seldom does melodrama feel so genuine as it does in Kiss of the Spider Woman. It may be due to the contrast between the overacted film scenes recalled by Luis and the realist scenes from the Brasilian prison, this contradiction between the movie-induced grand illusions and shit-smelling prison reality. Whether the tragic end vindicates the one or the other, is open to debate.
Interesting character drama works in large part to the excellent performances of Raul Julia and William Hurt. It goes on a bit too long, and takes a few credibility-stretching turns, but the strengths of the acting and a few visually impressive sequences make it a compelling piece of work.