Friday, September 10, 2010

LOS ABRAZOS ROTOS
(BROKEN EMBRACES)

Penelope Cruz, Lluis Homar, Blanca Portillo




This Pedro Almodovar film opens with the reels of a film being shot. Then it flips to a blind person who recounts to a complete stranger that he used to be known as the director Mateo Blanco but now simply exists as Harry Caine (Lluis Homar), a screenwriter.

It is only much later when we learn of the events which led him to permanently use his pseudonym. A love story which commenced in 1992 with an enigmatic woman named Magdalena (Penelope Cruz) or Lena for short. A secretary who becomes the mistress of a wealthy businessman named Ernesto Martel. She ends up having a passionate affair with Mateo Blanco who was directing her in a film called "Chicas y Malletas".

The heart of the film lies on Almodovar's great muse, the enduring Penelope Cruz. Even though the role is not as meaty as her character in "Volver", she managed to mesmerize the entire audience with her stunning presence. Her portrayal of a mistress to an obsessive business tycoon is credible. And we see a complete change of character when she is in the throes of an illicit affair with Mateo.

The plot is complex with many side plots all coming to the fore. It unfolds with the use of flashbacks as Harry Caine recounts their tragic romance. Character development is extensive as each of the roles are well fleshed out for our viewing pleasure. You even have a lip reader thrown into the mix but strangely enough it blends perfectly well in an Almodovar flick.

A smorgasbord of drama, mystery, romance and a dash of comedy all mix well in this Spanish languaged movie with English subtitles. Although it reasonably pales in comparison to his previous movies like "Habla con Ella" and "Todo sobre mi Madre" it is still worth seeing!

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