Monday, March 2, 2009


Pedro Almodovar is a fascinating director, and "Volver" is a powerfully fascinating and intensely provoking film. What charges the film is a brilliant script from Almodovar, who orchestrates happenings of the most interesting kind. Penelope Cruz is one of his favorite actresses, and here she plays Raimunda, a woman in an unhappy relationship and with a sister (Lola Duenas) who she's recovering with. See, they've lost their mother. At the beginning of the film, they are tending to her grave and to their Aunt who's heading for death. Soon, a terribly grotesque event happens involving Raimunda's husband and daughter and echoes the past. I don't know if it sets things in motion, but it somewhat lays down the tension for a ridiculously taut drama. Anyways, Raimunda's sister Sole begins to start seeing their mother, Irene (a wonderful performance by Carmen Maura), and suddenly we are confused. Is this a film of the supernatural, or is Irene not actually dead at all? I would say both. I'm sure that's not much of a spoiler, it's just a indication that Almodovar is up to something out-of-the-ordinary in his creation. "Volver" is very much about death, just not as you may think. The translation of the title into English is "To Return." That has many meanings in the film. As does the screenplay. Almodovar crafts writings of multiple mediums, and the dialogue helps convey them the fullest. Yet, I don't know if the execution is quite as full. Almodovar has absolutely nothing to do with this, and I am not putting him down. He is just as good as you have heard. Cruz, extremely good in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," is pretty good here, but is tainted in my mind. Why? As, Nick Davis said, because her "lip-syncing" to Estrella Morente's titular song is so bad, it's unbearable. Why not write out that one character trait, and you'd have a resoundingly complete performance. Another thing is that the movie is at least 20 minutes too long. The ending, however, is very well done, but I believe the restaurant scenes could have been made shorter, including the dreaded, aforementioned Cruz moment. "Volver," though, is truly a special film. The flaws are only a small part of the glory here. B+


aspergiansarah said...

Question- *SPOILER* do you think Raimunda knew, or at least suspected, that her boyfriend had sexual impulses towards the dauhgter? I saw and enjoyed thiis film recently (my first Almodovar) and I remember Raimunda telling the girl off for sitting casually with her legs uncrossed when Paco was in the room. If so, she (though unintentionally) had a big part in what happened.

Nick Duval said...

I don't know... that's a really good question. It's possible. I'd probably need to see the film again to analyze it more clearly.