Volver (2006)




Pedro Almodóvar




Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Yohana Cobo, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Chus Lampreave, Antonio de la Torre, María Isabel Díaz, Carlos Blanco, Neus Sanz


Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) lives in Madrid with her husband Paco (Antonio de la Torre) and her teen daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo). When Paco attempts to rape her daughter, and gets stabbed to death, Raimunda tries to cover up the murder. As if that wasn't enough, her aunt Paula (Chus Lampreave) passes away, and Irene (Carmen Maura), Raimunda's dead mother, returns from the afterlife asking for her forgiveness.


The first time I tried to watch this film I was younger and foolish, and the opening scene taking place in a cemetery completely took away from me the desire to watch it. Today, four or five years later, I'm glad I turned it off, because I don't think I was mature enough to deal with such a strong film back then. 

Volver is a compassionate and tender film that hits many issues like death, loneliness, and sexual abuse, and although it lacks of Almodóvar's suspense, still keeps you thrilled.

Death. Presumed, inflicted, or escaped, is still death. The theme is very explicit from the very beginning, with the cemetery sequence where women cleaning gravestones are disturbed by the wind. These women, their secrets, and their generational contrasts are the stars of the story, beautiful told, and even if its tragedy, and melodrama recalls soap-operas, the characters somehow manage to avoid self-pity.

Pedro Almodóvar beautifully balanced the drama and the magic realism, and the result is a very believable film. Also, the several twists are greatly tied together, even though they are a bit too predictable - at least they were for me.

The music is great. The scene in which Penélope Cruz sings Carlos Gardel's Volver is quite an emotional uplift - it's actually not Cruz's voice but Estrella Morente's. The photography by José Luis Alcaine is excellent.

The nearly all-female cast is great. Penélope Cruz is simply spectacular. She gives an intense and passionate performance as Raimunda, and her emotions are contagious. Carmen Maura as the mother, and Lola Dueñas as the sister are also wonderful. Despite the short scene time, Chus Lampreave as tía Paula is magnificent. Blanca Portillo also deserves a mention.

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