Monday, December 11, 2006


The newest film of Almodovar is called Volver, which means turn back. In this film he uses at the central role one of his favorite actresses, Penelope Cruz. For one more time Almodovar is focusing on women. The central theme of the film is the relationship between mothers and daughters. After her death, the mother returns to resolve the issues she had with one of her daughters. In the mean time her daughter (Penelope) is trying to put her life into order. She tries to hide the body of her lover, who was murdered by her own daughter when he tried to murder her, to earn some money and get on her feet again.

Almodovar always had a flair for soap opera, surreal and kitsch. As the years go by I feel that his aesthetics change into a milder tone. The extravagant and the high tones that accompanied his older films like Kika or the Women on the Verge of a break down have faded away. Strong colors and even glamorous lighting remain as a symbol of the culture of Spain, but the kitsch has definitely departed. Moreover the surrealism and irony of his older films has also mellowed down. Hints of his old sarcasm remain but are not so obvious anymore. In this film for example there is a scene of criticism against the talk shows that are popular on tv these days. A woman who suffers from cancer is invited to talk about he scandals of her village. A hot subject for a tv show since sex and murder is included. When she refuses to reveal her secrets the show woman reminds her that her reward for the shown would be a treatment for cancer at Memorial. The problem is that the more his film become mild and aesthetically pleasing, the more they resemble to a soap opera. His scripts always referred to issues that could well be the central theme of a soap opera: family problems and erotic relationships. Irony and surrealism managed to differentiate his film form the tv-series. His new glossier style has made his films easier to watch and acceptable to many people that were appalled by the extravagance of his old ones. Is this necessarly a minus, though? Why should a worthy film be a difficult film? If Almodovar manages to convey his messages with a milder tone why shouldn’t he?

I enjoyed Volver. I enjoyed the fact that it begins in a surreal, metaphysical way taking us "hostages" in its narration and making us believe at the supernatural only to end up in a completely logic and natural explanation. I like the fact that the film had cleverness in its script. It conveyed clearly the feelings of the people involved in the story, and ends up with a healing touch. On the other hand, I miss some of the sheer audacity that Almodovar demonstrated in the past. If Almodovar could combine the new aesthetic with the irony and surrealism of the past, I personally would be a happier spectator. Volver, however, remains a good and an enjoyable film that is worth seeing.

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