By Jack Rico
Rated: R for sexual content, language and some drug material.
Release Date: 2009-11-20
Starring: Pedro Almodóvar
Official Website: http://www.pedroalmodovar.es/PAB_EN_Cap01.asp
One of Spain’s most talented sons gives cinema a new work titled ‘Broken Embraces’. Pedro Almodóvar reunites with Penélope Cruz to once again give us a visually sensual and beautiful, bold and impressive theater of the mind, but one that regrettably doesn’t break new ground. It is not his best film and thus the reason it wasn’t selected to participate in Spain’s Oscar selections for this upcoming ceremony. It is by no intention a bad film, it simply isn’t overwhelming. Were we asking for too much? Was that the problem?
The premise is interesting and very Almodovar. Harry Caine (Lluís Homar), a screenwriter/director, suffers a near fatal crash that leaves him blind. After healing from his wounds 14 years later, he finds himself directing and editing his last movie which starred his eternal love.
There is beauty in his work, but I believe there was also writers block, which is why he recycled so much of his favorite films such as Elevator to the Gallows, Voyage to Italy and his own Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Pedro took the opportunity to become Tarantino in this film and craft a class in filmmaking to us all. His new work combines amour fou, crime-noir melodrama, satirical comedy, complex structures and subplots and anything else his head could devise. He’s good but his ambition got the best of him and the construction of the story ultimately did not rise to the levels of his previous works. It looks as if his focus left the narrative and shifted to the technical aspects and look of the film. Almodovar is accountable for his own success and it burns him here.
Nonetheless, the minor imperfections do not damage his reputation as a dexterous helmer nor should it influence your decision to see the movie. Penelope Cruz gives another mesmerizing performance as the “femme fatale” but one that doesn’t rival her character in passion and charm from ‘Volver’. The rest of the cast shows why Spain is a gold mine full of talented actors.
In a broad comment, this year was specifically a great year for Spanish movies. The box office has reaped the benefits of their marvelous stories and productions and we’re all the better for it. Almodovar is being challenged by other filmmakers such as Isabel Coixet, Fernando Trueba, Daniel Sánchez Arévalo and Alejandro Aménabar (half Chilean). I hope to see their work rival his because Hollywood awaits them desperately.