Tuesday, August 14, 2007



Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas,
Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo

Cinema 1, Gateway Cineplex

A vintage Pedro Almodovar flick with strong, feisty and multidimensional female characters reigning supreme. To reveal more about the plot would be sacrilegious because Almodovar presents this film in such a visually enticing manner, you have to experience it with your own eyes.

From the opening scene of a very windy day at the cemetery to the gastronomic feast at the restaurant, to the way his camera pans on the tissue paper as it absorbs blood - every minute detail of each scene is efficiently captured, you can't help but be awe struck at the cinematic treat. As usual, Almodovar chose women as his main characters. Women of all age, type and personality living in a world where they strive, where they do everything and where men are mostly portrayed in a bad light and/or non existent.

The sometimes funny dialogue is clearly enunciated in that normal rapid manner incumbent of the Spanish language. Several Spanish/Latin customs like the cleaning of grave sites, kissing noisily on both cheeks as a form of greeting and the whole family bonding experience centered around meals are also realistically shown with some added quirky nuances. The setting is a typical little rural Spanish town with its inherent picturesque charms like cobble stoned streets and white houses.

But I have to defer to the fact that the reason this film succeeds in telling a somewhat quirky story is due largely to Penelope Cruz. She simply radiates in this film! Her portrayal of Raimunda, a single mother with complex troubles who continues to strive in the wake of several adversities is superb. I have always believed that Penelope Cruz is best seen in Spanish movies than in those inane Hollywood ones where her English with an awkward accent tend to interfere with her acting. In "Volver" she is at her best elements. Almodovar knows exactly how to fully exploit her acting abilities. The only thing I felt was somehow out of place is the part where Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) starts lip syncing the song "Volver". It seemed forced and you could tell it wasn't her singing voice at all. But she still remains the very heart and soul of this film.

Of course she is ably supported by other good Spanish actresses. Each of them combining to give powerful performances worthy of praises. This film really deserved its numerous nominations at several award giving associations as Best Foreign Language film for 2007.

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