Posted at 10:13 AM on December 21, 2006
by Euan Kerr
It's no secret that Pedro Almodovar revels in telling women's stories. In "Volver" he's made perhaps his most broadly appealing film, while giving up little of the quirky malevolent undercurrents which make his films so irrestistible.
"Volver" is the story of Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) a woman dealt a mixed hand by life. She's smart and voluptuous, but hamstrung by a layabout husband, Paco. She's also haunted by the loss of her parents in a mysterious fire a few years before.
As with other Almodovars, the story twists like a decapitated snake at times. There are secrets, a murder, a resurrection, ghosts, illness, and a film crew.
Cruz holds the whole thing together and injects an earthy humor to what is after all a sad tale. Her worldly joie de vivre infects this entire film and makes it a romp. Add the magnificent Carmen Maura, a central figure in Almodovar's early films, to the mix and you end up with a dark comedy of Spanish manners.
Almodovar (left with Cruz) is one of the few 'must see' directors working nowadays. His last couple of films, "Talk to Her" (about women in comas and the men who care for them) and "Bad Education" (about a cross-dresser and his issues with the church,) had a dark tinge which may have turned some people off.
"Volver" is dark and twisted too, but it's dark twisted family entertainment, and I'm dying to see it again, with my kids just to see how they react.