Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Volver (2006) dir. Pedro Almodovar
Starring: Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas
I’ve never gotten the magic of Almodovar that others have, specifically the critically acclaimed “All About My Mother”. So, I was a little skeptical of “Volver” especially because of the hype and awards. I enjoyed the film, though not overwhelmed, so I guess I have to stay on the fence on this one.
“Volver” is Almodovar’s ode to Hitchcock. A witty and suspenseful tale about a dead mother who returns to the lives of her two daughters to unravel, reveal and atone for a generation of lies about the tragedies of her family.
Penelope Cruz plays one of the daughters, Raimunda. She, herself, has a daughter, Paula and a loathsome husband Paco. Raimunda returns home to find her daughter has killed Paco after he attempted to assault her. Instead of going to the police Raismunda hides the body and creates a story that Paco left the two for good. She then finds a new lease in life when she takes over and runs his restaurant business.
Meanwhile the other daughter, Sole (Lola Dueñas), has met what can only be the ghost of their dead mother, Irene (Carmen Maura). They actually move in and work together on Sole’s burgeoning hair salon. These two storylines collide when Raimunda finds out about Sole’s visions of her mother and is forced to confront the dark family secrets that has caused Irene to enter their lives again.
The climax and revelations are the stuff of Shakespearean melodrama. And the effect of events in the past are cleverly related to Raimunda’s actions in the present. The salacious details are handled effortlessly and with some wit, but considering the emotional impact of the events I was left feeling a little short changed. I wanted to feel the emotions as say, Lars Von Trier would have played them, instead Almodovar plays it down.
The film looks like his other films. He frames his women with inspiring reverence. Only Fellini rivals his love of women on screen. Men are scarce in the film and the one man who isn’t a lowlife degenerate is a handsome film production manager who uses Raimundo’s restaurant for catering. They come close to falling in love, but that subplot is sadly discarded midway through the film. Like “All About My Mother” the colours are bright and saturated, recreating an old Hollywood Technicolor feel. The music at times feels like Bernard Herrman, but it's unusually subdued and barely audible most of time. It’s a missed opportunity to up the intensity.
But Pedro has done it his way, and as I said before, I never really saw the magic in his films that others have. I will recommend “Volver” to anyone looking to discover Almodovar or anyone interested in European cinema, it’s not just my bag. Enjoy
Buy it here: Volver
Here’s Penelope Cruz singing in a lovely scene: