Friday, May 11, 2007


Volver (Pedro Almodovar, 2006) [7]
This film somehow manages to continue and break with the darkening path that Almodovar has taken with his last two film, Talk to Her (fantastic film) and Bad Education (solid, but not great). It is much more light-hearted and affectionate in tone, but it still has darker undercurrents laying underneath its glossy exterior. Incest, abuse (psychical, mental, and sexual), and murder all play a role here but they never are as menacing as they could have been. Almodovar uses these themes to help underscore the strength of the woman in the film, and like all Almodovar films, he writes fantastic parts for his actresses (even though I could make the argument that Talk to Her focuses more on its male characters, but that's here nor there..). Almodovar's films always contain somewhat trashy or taboo themes, but this is the first film that really plays those off as almost inconsequential. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be taken seriously; even though Raimunda, expertly played by Penelope Cruz, murders her husband, it comes across in a way that makes her a stronger woman. Of course there's the parallel between her and her mother, but that acts as a bonding between the two, an attempt to mend their fractured relationship. It is the character of Raimunda that holds the film together, as its doesn't really succeed in the scenes where she is not present. Cruz's portrayal defines the film, not so much the story, which is why I still feel a bit underwhelmed by it. The visuals still are strong as always in Almodovar films, the bright colors and his construction of images are nearly seamless. There were just times it seemed like Almodovar removed all the sharp commentary that I really enjoy. While not a throwaway by any sense, I would have liked to see this film be just a little more daring.

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