Monday, December 04, 2006

Volver directed by Pedro Almodovar

A few reviews of Pedro Almodovar's Volver:

For a black comedy whose tangled sequence of events is completely improbable, Pedro Almodóvar's "Volver" feels absolutely authentic. So, think of everything as metaphor and enjoy one of the year's most delectably twisted treats.

The title of the Spanish filmmaker's 16th feature means "return," and that's partly what he does in telling a story (subdued by his standards) about a family from La Mancha, the village south of Madrid where he grew up.

But you won't find any men in "Volver" dreaming the impossible dream. The dreamers are all women; the men are all dead, or about to be.
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Volver, Pedro Almodóvar's 16th film, was rumored to mark the Spanish director's long-awaited return to comedy, or at least the dark, unsettling humor of many of the early movies (Labyrinth of Passion, Dark Habits, What Have I Done to Deserve This?, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) that earned him an international audience.

But although Volver, which opens Wednesday, does have its share of amusing moments, and is overall lighter in tone than Almodóvar's past few pictures (Bad Education, Talk to Her, All About My Mother), it cannot be labeled as a mere comedy. Like many of the movies he has made throughout his career, but especially true of his output over the past decade, Volver (which translates as To Return) is too complex and unpredictable to fit into any one genre.
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Pity Pedro Almodóvar. He's so good so often that the world has come to expect a masterpiece with every new picture.

Such demands are understandable but unwarranted for "Volver," his 16th film and his most easily digestible movie since 1995's "The Flower of My Secret" (no bendy narratives this time). If that lack of formal ambition sounds disappointing, this comedy brings the director back to La Mancha, the town of his youth in south central Spain that Cervantes centuries before made famous. The homecoming, even when measured against the accomplished feeling in Almodóvar's recent films, proves magnificent.

The story here is a kind of fairy tale, set entirely in working-class burghs, and it gets less dark as it goes on. The clouds are perpetually parting. Raimunda (Penélope Cruz), a wife and mother, spends her days cleaning at the airport only to come home to her small Madrid apartment and clean some more.
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