Monday, September 18, 2006

My review of Volver.

Pedro Almodovar’s 2004 Hitchcockian effort, Bad Education, proved to be a polarizing force. Volver found plaudits amongst nearly every critic, and that is because amongst the father-stabbing, singalongs and appearances of ghosts, Almodovar has truly found his niche.


Penelope Cruz plays the put-upon mother Raimunda, who, straight after attending the dusty town of La Mancha to attend to her mother’s grave, finds herself husbandless, thanks to her own daughter. So far, so convoluted. But there’s more. Her sister, Sole (Lola Deunas) thinks she’s seeing the ghost of her dead mother, and their friend Augustina tries to find out the truth about her own mother, before time runs out and cancer gets the best of her.

In his deftly-weaved, beautifully portrait of the fairer sex, Almodovar’s touches are bold and brilliant, every scene resonating a vibrancy and unforgettable soul that is very appealing. In the lead role, Penelope Cruz gives one of the best performances of the year. As Raimunda, she is outspoken, risk-taking, and harbours a troubled secret about her daughter. The plot turns, suffice to say are as audacious as that of any Alomodovarian plot, but Volver impacts for its huge heart. You will love this women and care about their every move.

The melodramatic, offbeat style that the film is made suits it perfectly, and Cruz, Duenas, Maura and Portillo give performances that impress and involve. Although the film, written specially for Cruz, essentially belongs to her and the independent, individual character of Raimunda, Maura, as the ghostly figure of her mother, is sad and funny, and perfectly in control of a performance that could easily slip into farce. Portillo is as impressive, and in a key scene involving a decision made on live TV, every nuance of her acting is effective in the heart-wrenching scene.

Regular Almodovar collaborator, Alberto Iglesias, tunes his musical skills to perfection, and, through pizzicato-led interludes and frames saturated with colour, Almodovar’s canny direction shines. He presents us a story as big-hearted and loving as many you’re likely to find this year, and, despite there being some shocking plot twists, you’ll still come out of Volver with a positive outlook on life. There’s a lot of ground covered here, from severing drinks to parental atonement, but every scene has something great to it, thanks to a lovely screenplay that is by turns witty, bright, disturbing and heartbreaking. Mature, beautifully told and wonderfully acted, Volver is worth returning to.

18 comments:

Reel Fanatic said...

Great review Mystic ... Bad Education was Pedro's worst in many, many years, in my opinion, so it's good to hear he's back in top form with Volver

arden said...

Great review. Bad Education was great. Love your site.

j.l. said...

Your film reviews will be the 6th thing I miss the most when I go to Oxford

Emma said...

STOP!

Anyway, you'll always have the Internet. MSN! E-mail! And so on.

j.l. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emma said...

I know.

I know.

Starbucks Sat.

Emma said...

Paris.

Paris in London

j.l. said...

You're right, I won't forget that. Memories and beautiful things.

Emma said...

la vita non e dolce

Andrew said...

OMG GT! Heard the worst rumour involving you... say it isn't so

Emma said...

Depends what it is. I'm an odd person.

Anonymous said...

It probably was true.

judytta said...

I
was in cinema for "VOLVER" last Sunday: 1.10.2006.

I want to ask you: how was your first feel when are you was watched VOLVER?

For me feel was the women for
cemetery.
And moment when all women
was go together and men go together for coffin.

I think that everyone to will
memorizing that moment.

Anonymous said...

I hate you for how well you write. You are a true critic. Forget A-levels, you've got more talent than all the writers on The Guardian put together, you could make it as a film critic

free full movies online said...

Although Volver seems to have a soap-operatic story, writer/director Pedro Almodóvar avoids most of the melodramatic trappings by maintaining a darkly comedic and honest tone, while Cruz’s attitude keeps the atmosphere light-hearted and optimistic.

Juliette said...

This is the only Pedro movie I haven't seen and just must get this. My husband calls his movies chick flix but I think they are deep, very clever and I'm addicted. The first one I saw was 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Break Down.' Thanks for reviewing this so nicely.

dogs toys

Sara said...

Cruz was just perfect for this role - she is the epitomy of Pedro's vision of a woman. Thanks for sharing.


dog harness

Tony said...

Chick flick with attitude but hey great review!

Anthony Hopkins