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Gael Garcia Bernal

Pedro Almodovar
on the set of
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movie trailer ( - quicktime)

NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by LMS who says:
" was a fantastic movie." "It's only playing in indie theaters and once you read the spoiler you'll understand that it's not likely to become mainstream."

The movie takes place in Spain and jumps around between 1980, which is supposed to be the present, 1977 and some time in the later 60s or early 70s.  There are a lot of twists in the movie.

The movie begins with a guy named Enrique (Fele Martinez) and his assistant Martin looking through tabloids for a movie idea.  An actor knocks on their office door and says that his name is Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and that he and Enrique went to Catholic school together when they were younger.  Ignacio and Enrique talk briefly and we learn that Ignacio (who wants to be called by his stage name Angel) is desperate for work and wants to be in one of Enrique's new movies.  Enrique explains that he doesn't have any movies on the horizon but will keep him in mind.  Ignacio then offers a story he has written called "The Visit."  Ignacio tells him that it is about their childhood.  Ignacio then leaves as Enrique promises that he will contact Ignacio if something comes up.  After he leaves, Enrique tells Martin that he has no intention of contacting Ignacio and he no longer even recognizes his "first love."

We then cut to Enrique reading "The Visit."  (This is now a scene from the story taking place in 1977)  You see Enrique going into a club where a drag queen is performing.  It is Ignacio in a blond wig singing and goes by the name of Zahara.  He notices Enrique in the club.  When Ignacio/Zahara is leaving for the night with his friend Paca (another drag queen) he sees Enrique searching for his car keys near his motorcycle.  Ignacio, dressed in drag, helps Enrique look for his keys and they end up back in Enrique's hotel room.  You don't really know if Enrique knows that Ignacio is a drag queen but it doesn't really matter.  They begin fooling around and the middle, Enrique passes out.  Paca and Ignacio begin to rob him when Ignacio discovers that this is actually his first love from childhood.  He quickly stops Paca from steeling Enrique's motorcycle and writes him a note.  We learn that Enrique is actually married with children and is completely broke.  Ignacio then has sex with Enrique while he is passed out and then sits down to write Enrique a letter  Ignacio reveals who he is and that he is going to make the person pay that broke them up when they were 12 years old.  He also leaves money with Enrique's clothing. 

Cut to the next day and Ignacio/Zahara and Paca do a couple of hits of cocaine and then enter a small chapel.  We see a priest (Father Manolo) conducting a mass with an alter boy assisting.  Ignacio and Paca hide and when the service is over, Ignacio sneaks into the priests chambers.  While this happens, Paca begins stealing everything that isn't nailed down.  Ignacio introduces himself as Ignacio's sister Zahar and tells Father Manolo that Ignacio has told his story about how the priest molested him when he was 12 and that if he doesn't pay him $1 million, he will sell the story to a movies production company and that Father Manolo will be exposed.  The conversation is briefly interrupted by Father Jose who informs Manolo that the chapel has been robbed and then you see Manolo whisper something to father Jose.

We then cut back to Enrique reading Ignacio/Angel's story.  You can tell he loves it.  He contacts Ignacio to tell him that he wants to produce the movie and Ignacio is thrilled.  Ignacio says that he sees himself playing the part of Zahara but Enrique doesn't think he can do the part.  He says that Ignacio is too masculine to play a woman.  Ignacio swears he can lose weight and do this role.  They agree to disagree for the time and end up getting drunk together.  They go back to Enrique's place and go for a swim.  You can tell there is a lot of sexual tension between them but they seem to be trying to ignore it.  Finally they both sit by the pool and talk about the movie again.  Ignacio finally says that he won't sell the movie to Enrique if he won't let him play Zahara.  Enrique calls Ignacio a cock tease and they part ways.

We cut back now to when the boys were 12 and we see how they met in Catholic school.  Once a year the literature teacher, Father Manolo, takes the boys on a field trip to what looks like a camp site where the boys can swim and have a good time.  We see Ignacio and Manolo siting alone.  Father Manolo is listening to Ignacio singing a song (he's got an incredible voice) and when the music stops, you hear Ignacio yell "no" and as he runs away, he slips and hits his head on a rock.  Father Manolo gets up to help and as he is getting up he is clearing buttoning back up his robe. 

We then cut to a mass and Ignacio is singing in the choir and he and Enrique are eying each other.  They finally talk after mass and we discover that they both having been wanting to talk to each other but they were too shy.  The boys then go to a movie and while they don't show anything, it is clear that the boys are fondling each other in the theater.  The next day we see that Ignacio has been preparing to sing a song for Father Manolo's birthday party/luncheon with several other priests.  Ignacio is remembering how all the priests looked at him in a caring way and that Father Manolo just looked like he was going to cry, like he felt guilty for his sins. 

Cut to that night in the dormitory.  Neither boy can sleep and they go to speak in the bathroom.  As they are talking they hear Father Manolo come in to check on all the students.  He is clearly looking for Ignacio.  He finds the boys hidden in a stall together and sends Enrique back to bed and drags Ignacio away to pray.  They finish praying and go to the priests office.  Ignacio is crying and says that he will do whatever Father Manolo wants as longs as he doesn't expel Enrique.  The priest promises but as we see the next day, Enrique is expelled. 

Cut back to the present.  Enrique decides to go and find Ignacio at his mother's home.  When he arrives he learns that about 3 years prior Ignacio tried to send him a letter but it was returned.  We also learned that shortly after writing this letter, Ignacio died.  It is revealed that the person claiming to be Ignacio is actually Ignacio's younger brother Juan.  He is a theater major and goes by the name of Angel.  Enrique is confused and Ignacio's mother explains that Juan looked up to his brother and was the one who found Ignacio dead.  We also learned that Juan burned everything that was Ignacio's.  The only thing that was saved was the letter to Enrique which contains the story "The Visit." 

Enrique leaves a bit confused but looks for Juan/Ignacio/Angel.  We see that Juan has met a drag queen at a local bar and has asked that he/she teach him how to act as a woman.  Juan tells Enrique that he is sorry for saying he won't sell him the play and that he can have it whether he casts him as Zahara or not.  We then see the two men having sex which is referred to as "his audition."  (They show the two having sex but it you get the feeling that Juan isn't gay, he just really wants to be Ignacio, both in the movie and in life)  It seems that both men are acting as Enrique does not reveal that he knows Juan's true identity.  Eventually Enrique gives the part of  Ignacio/Zahara to Juan/Angel.

We now cut to filming the movie and we discover that Enrique has changed the ending because the original ending was happy and the story wasn't a happy one.  (We also learn that the man introduced as Father Manolo in the flashbacks, was actually scenes from the movie they are making.)  As Father Manolo is reading over Zahara's story she is growing impatient and wants to leave.  He demands the money because he wants to have surgery to become a woman.  He says that this is a one time deal and will never bother the priest again.  Someone knocks on the office door and as Zahara/Ignacio is trying to escape, Father Jose grabs Zahara, ties him up and reveals that he knows this is actually Ignacio in drag. He also says that the blackmail will never stop, that it will ruin the school and that they have no choice but to silence him.  Father Manolo is in shock that Zahara is really Ignacio and he can't understand what happened to the boy that he "loved."  Then, Father Jose grabs Zahara/Ignacio and snaps his neck.  He says that he will take care of the body.  The director then yells cut and we see Juan begin crying inconsolably.  All we see is the makeup woman, Monica, helping him out of the drag.

As Enrique heads back to his office to review the film, a man is waiting in his office.  He introduces himself as the villain of the story.  This is the real Father Manolo who is now known as Manuel Berenguer, an editor for young writers.  He is married and has 2 children.  Manolo/Berenguer asks if he wants to know how Ignacio really died.  Manolo/Berenguer tells him that Ignacio did come and find him to blackmail him.  (We are now in 1977)  Manolo received Ignacio's story "The Visit" at the publishing house, clearly knew it was about him and rejected it.  When Ignacio confronted him, he realized it was Manolo and demanded payment for his silence.  We also learned that Ignacio really is a drag queen and wants to become a woman.  We also learn that he is a heroin addict and that his mother sent Juan to live with him to keep an eye on him.  Manolo starts to bring Igancio small amounts of money and with each visit, you realize that Manolo has now become obsessed with Juan.  Manolo seems to find any excuse to come over to their apartment, with only small amounts of money and keeps telling Ignacio that he needs more time.  He finally admits that the bank is willing to loan him $1 million but it will take 3 weeks.  Finally, Ignacio says that he is going to visit his mother and when he gets back, he wants the money.  Manolo helps Ignacio into his cab and then realizes he left his scarf in Ignacio's apartment.  Juan is there and Manolo admits that he is in love with Juan.  He tells Juan that he actually got approved for a $2 million loan.  He also tells Juan that he told his wife he was leaving the country for a week for work so that he could spend time with Juan.  He ends up spending the entire week with Juan, buying him gifts and having sex with him.  When Ignacio returns he does not seem surprised to see Juan and Manolo are together.  Ignacio once again demands his money because he now plans to enter a rehab clinic and once he is clean, check into a hospital for his surgery.  When Igancio leaves to go to work, Juan gets a call from his mother.  Ignacio stole all their money, including his great aunt's pension, for drugs.  Juan is furious.  Juan and Manolo decide that Ignacio must be killed.  He is ruining all their lives. 

The plan is that Juan will buy lethal dose of heroin and have Manolo deliver it to him.  When Manolo shows up to give Ignacio the heroin, we see Ignacio is sitting at his typewriter.  Ignacio explains that he has typed 2 letters, one to the school and one to Manolo's wife, telling his story.  He says that if anything happens to him, these letters will implicate Manolo in his death.  Manolo hands over the heroin and promises to have the money in a few days.  Ignacio then tells him to leave because he doesn't like other people around when he shoots up.  After he shoots up we see that Ignacio is starting to write a letter to Enrique.  It says "Dear Enrique, I have succeeded..."  Then, Ignacio goes limp and falls on the typewriter.  Shortly after, Juan goes up and sees his brother is dead but leaves and spends the day with Manolo.  They spend the day at the movies and Manolo asks if every movie they saw was meant to remind them of their guilt (all the movies were about people committing murder).  Juan explains that the death looks like an overdose but that they need time apart to avoid suspicion, just in case.  Manolo reluctantly agrees.  He does however, ask that Juan burn the two letters that implicate him in Ignacio's death.  Juan agrees.  (It is now clear why Juan burned all of Ignacio's stuff after his death). 

Cut back to the present with Enrique and Manolo in his office.  Enrique is sickened by the story and asks Manolo to leave.  As Juan comes to see Enrique, he sees that Manolo is with him. Enrique leaves, wanting nothing to do with Juan.  

Then Manolo tells Juan that he knew he would find him.  Enrique's project had been written up in several papers.  He tells Juan that he is in love with him and will always find him.  It is now obvious that Juan was just using Manolo's crush to help him kill his brother.  (You also get the sense that he isn't even gay, just did what he had to do, much like during his "audition").  Manolo threatens to expose Juan but Juan has kept his brother's letters and knows that Manolo is the only one who will take the fall. 

Juan shows up at Enrique's house and tries to explain everything.  Enrique says that he knows that he is Juan.  Juan says that he knew Enrique knew he wasn't Ignacio because his mom told him about Enrique's visit.  Enrique asks how he could manipulate a molesting priest and murder his own brother.   Juan tries to explain but Enrique just asks Juan to leave and calls him a cab.  Just as Juan is leaving he hands Enrique a note.  Enrique says he doesn't want any of Juan's explanations but Juan tells him that it is a letter from Ignacio.  It is the letter he was typing when he died.  All it says is "Dear Enrique, I have succeeded" and then it's a bunch of jumbled letters from when Ignacio hit his head.  As Enrique is closing the gate to his home, we learn what eventually happens to Enrique, Juan and Manolo.  Juan/Angel hit it big because of the movie "The Visit," became a huge hearthrob, made more movies and now will only work in television.  He also married the makeup woman Monica.  Manolo remained obsessed with Juan and eventually blackmailed him.  One rainy night Manolo was run down by a car that did not stop, it was driven by Juan/Angel.  As for Enrique, he continued to make movies. 

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