- The Magic Of Compassion 7/7/2006 12:00:00 AM by marcosaguado
I'm not going to tell you what the film is about because what was about for me it may not be for you and one of the many pleasures of the film is to find yourself there. Just let me say that after the Sahara, Vanilla Sky and Captain Corelli's Mandolin's adventures in Hollywood, I had discarded Penelope Cruz as an actress, completely. Well, "Volver" made me swallow my judgment. She is, quite simply, spectacular. A sort of Sophia Loren when Sophia worked with Vittorio De Sica. She is a mass of contradictions and not for a moment she tries to play for sympathy.Her emotion is contagious and makes us comprehend the incomprehensible. Carmen Maura makes a chilling, beautiful and unique entrance into this sublime Almodovar film based on his most scrumptious screenplay. The women stick together for each other's sake, they may even cross unspeakable boundaries for sheer compassion. The film uplifted me in a way that no other film has done in a long, long time.
- Almodovar, but no carnal episodes 7/17/2006 12:00:00 AM by dolboeb
An extremely kind, compassionate and tender film noir, from Spain's most internationally acclaimed filmmaker, might lack some of the suspense his other movies are famous for, but still it keeps the spectator thrilled and anxious until the very last moments. Anyone who likes Almodovar movies should see this one, and you can bring your family along, for a change (kids and grandmas alike).
Indeed, the movie lacks some of the usual Almodovar suspense, and whatever mysteries it contains, are generally solved by the viewer some 20 minutes before they are explicitly and verbally elaborated on screen. It looks like Almodovar lost some of his interest in the telltale part of his movies, paying more attention to acting and emotions. Well, acting is fully worth the shift.
Penelope Cruz is predictably brilliant and gorgeous, but performance by other ladies (from the elderly Chuz Lampreave to teenage Cobo) is also worth applause.
- The story of 3 generations of women and their struggle to survive wind, fire and death 2/8/2007 12:00:00 AM by inesv
This is simple story about 3 generations of women: the grandmother Irene(Carmen Maura), her daughters Raimunda (Penélope Cruz)and Sole (Lola Due?as) and her granddaughter Paula(Yohana Cobo). It takes place mainly in Madrid, in a neighbourhood where various ethnic groups and people from the different provinces of Spain live, people who went to Madrid looking for a better tomorrow. Raimunda, Sole and Paula have to go back to their home town to praise the dead and meet one of their aunts, Tia Paula (Chus Lampreave). Soon the old aunt dies and unleashes a serious of mysterious events, their dead mother re-appears to settle some unresolved issues with her daughters and with her neighbour, Augustina (Blanca Portillo), revealing a past until then unknown. This is movie about the Spanish culture, homesickness, the culture of the death and the struggle of 4 women with strong character and strong personality traits to survive wind, fire and death. It is extremely well produced and has great photography as well as an unmatchable soundtrack. It is a very nice movie, filled with laughter and emotions and with a beautiful simplicity . If you are waiting for a Hollywood romance, a Hollywood comedy or a twisting complex plot, this might not be what you are looking for.
- the town and the city 3/20/2006 12:00:00 AM by jartcrouge
EPIC COMEDY If we get to forget the delirious and delicious comedy side of the film, we find an epic story of what the second half of the past century was for so many women in Spain. Moving from the town to the city(from La Mancha to Madrid, from great patio houses full of architectural wisdom to terrific social housing apartments in the suburbs of the city), fighting against the elements(fire that burns down like love, wind that drives you crazy, water that used to fill our rivers and now is gone), having bad luck with men as the only possible fate, exercising companionship, imagination, tenderness and shrewdness as their only weapons for surviving. Keeping dignity untouched inside them.
ACTRESSES Pedro Almodovar in this film is like a top ten chef reinventing the most popular dishes of his own culture! The movie is a tasting menu of the greatest playing actresses with the best possible direction. The wild instinct of Penelope to construct a suburban animal, with strong links to Italian mommas, the touching interpretation of Blanca Portillo, simply mind blowing, the master lesson from Chus Lampreave that fills the theater with rivers of affection, the young actress Yohana Cobo that achieves success in some of the most difficult takes in the film, and Lola Due?as that gets the plainest part and gives it a huge dimension with high level performance for comedy. And Carmen Maura, that stars the story like a Japanese terror movie star, she is like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of La Mancha.
DENSITY AND GRATITUDE So we have an epic story, great actresses, and a refined comedy that fills the spectator with gratitude, at least that is my case. I just have no defense in front of a film like this, that tells me a great story, makes me laugh, and has the highest detail density in objects colors, comments, views, gestures, references, movements and subplots. That is probably the only trouble with it, more than one view is necessary to catch it all, if possible!
- A vision of forgiveness beyond the grave?Volver 1/21/2007 12:00:00 AM by jaredmobarak
I now can say I have seen a Pedro Almodóvar film in the theatre. Sure I saw five of the eight films included in ?Viva Pedro!, but those were DVD projections, while Volver was the real thing (as evidenced by it catching fire causing the six or so of us watching to wait a bit before seeing the final twenty minutes). I will admit, while enjoying Pedro's lighter, earlier fare, it is the dramatic and dark films I really have an affinity for. Carne trémula and Hable con ella are brilliant movies that left an indelible mark on me once they concluded. Volver has moments of true emotional resonance, but there is a bit too much playfulness and an inconsistent tone that prevented it from being the masterpiece most critics are calling it, for me at least. I was captivated by the performances and the seemingly slight storyline, trying to figure out where it was going. However, a lot goes on that, while pulling a Usual Suspects twist, really is a series of McGuffins. Like that movie did for me, Volver proves that a great 180-degree flip at the end does not make a great film out of the hour and a half before it. Pedro definitely had something here, and while a very good film, just didn't quite seem to know how serious to take it.
Even if the film was utter crap, I would still have given it a good rating based on the phenomenal performance from Penélope Cruz. She has always been panned as an English- speaking actress, yet hailed as one of the best when in her native language. It's true?I have not seen a really great role from her in English, (Vanilla Sky was good, but knowing that she was in the Spanish original, I have to hold judgment until seeing Abre los ojos), and the foreign movies I've seen with her showed a more confident skilled professional. Both times seeing Cruz in her natural element were in Pedro films, but unlike Carne trémula and Todo sobre mi madre, where she played somewhat shy women, relying on her friends, here in Volver, she has an almost sexual awakening from those previous roles. One could say that this film is a vehicle for Cruz's gorgeous figure as much as the story being told. She is simply beautiful throughout, and it's that beauty and self-assuredness that makes the touching moments of poignancy that much more effective. She goes through all emotions here, and I believe if Pedro allowed the film to stay true to the dramatic elements rather than playing some serious moments as comedic, her performance would have been elevated even higher.
The supporting characters all do great work as well. Lola Due?as is great as the sister whose secret knowledge of their mother's return from the afterlife constantly keeps her on her toes. The facial expressions are priceless when trying to keep her stories straight with her sister and hairstyle customers. With her role here and in the fantastic Mar adentro, (coincidentally directed by Alejandro Amenábar who did the aforementioned Abre los ojos), I really hope more of the hugely successful Spanish directors today utilize her immense talents. As for the ghost of a mother, Carmen Maura, Pedro's old muse, returns in front of his camera. She plays the part perfectly where you can never quite see if she is a ghost or really there. Her comedic timing is precisely on the mark each instance needed, but again I feel it could have been better used in a different film. I also must mention Chus Lampreave with her distinctive voice and delivery, shining again in a small role. Almost every Pedro film I've seen has had her involved.
My review here might seem a bit harsh, but let me say I really enjoyed the film. It is just the knowledge of what Almodóvar can do with a dramatic piece of work that makes me think of how much more the movie could have been. No one does female-driven stories of family, love, and grief better, and it is just a shame many Americans don't have a clue about him. Hopefully Pedro will never sellout and do an English language film unless it's necessary for the story; he is too good at showing the culture of his home country of Spain. I have no clue if what he displays is true Spanish culture, but the opening scenes, with the tombstone cleaning, the funeral stories, and the non-stop kissing-greetings, make me feel totally surrounded by this foreign land.