Saturday, April 24, 2010

Broken Embraces

Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar, 2009) [8]

Hitchcock has always been in Almodovar's back pocket and Broken Embraces is probably the most overt homage that the man has made. This is also the strongest Almodovar film since Talk to Her, in a highly productive decade of solid filmmaking. At this point in my film-viewing career, the main elements of Almodovar's work come shining through: a focus on female characters, lush, colorful visuals, Hitchcockian plot twists and an adaptation of Sirkian melodrama. This film has all of that as the story centers around a blind former film director (Lluis Homar), whose intense affair with an actress, Lena, (Penelope Cruz) led to his blindness and her death. Complicating matters is Lena's husband, an industrial magnate with a dangerous obsession with her straight out of Hitchcock. We also come to learn that Harry/Mateo the director is just as obsessed with Lena as her husband and the film gets entwined in a series of events that lead to the main characters' demise. The first two-thirds of Broken Embraces is expertly constructed, perhaps the best filmmaking that I've seen from Almodovar. The only issue is the last third, which delves a little too much into syrupy melodrama and tepid revelations that it take some of the punch out of the ending. Almodovar has a way working with Penelope Cruz that is at times spellbinding, and he always manages to get the best of out of her performances. Here she ranges from being incredibly sexy to vulnerable and tortured by a horrendous marriage with ultimate confidence. Almodovar always has a way of writing strong female leads and Broken Embraces is no exception. It's not quite a great film but in the hands of Almodovar, is something better than almost anything else working with the same themes and genres.

No comments: