Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Inprint: Volver

Published in Inprint, Issue 5, October 31, 2006

Volver, Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, Starring Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Rated R, Opens Nov. 3rd

Out of breath, Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) opens her front door slightly. Her friend sees blood streaked on her neck and asks if she’s hurt. She brushes it off, saying “Women’s troubles.” This is the essence of Pedro Al¬modóvar’s Volver, a film revolving around women, their lives and their relationships.

Volver, in Spanish, means “to return,” and here it means to re¬turn to Raimunda’s and her sister, Sole’s (Lola Dueñas) home village, to their family and to every¬thing else in their lives. Most importantly, this includes the return of the ghost of their mother, Irene (Carmen Maura), who died in a fire with their father.

Almodóvar is fascinated with strong women, and the actresses in this film hold their own ground. The female cast collectively won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Cruz is perfectly costumed for the role in big teased hair, stylish clothes and lovely curves, both real and false (her ass is padded). Cruz exudes maternal strength and despair at the same time while remaining calm. Almodóvar always finds grittier and fleshier roles for Cruz as opposed to her American films and Raimunda is her best to date.

Volver also marks the reunion of actress Carmen Muera and Al¬modóvar, 18 years after Women on the Verge of a Nervous Break¬down. She flawlessly slips back into Almodóvar’s world flawlessly now as an older woman. Pretending to be a Russian immigrant, her cute, wide-eyed expressions hide her guilt as she attempts to reconnect with her daughters.

Almodóvar uses close-ups to emphasize key scenes, like the pristine, white quilted paper towel dropping onto a puddle of blood, the red quickly soaking the white and the overhead shot of Raimunda cleaning a knife slowly after dinner.

The film isn’t surrealist at all, fantastically real is a more suitable description. From Irene ap¬pearing out of nowhere in the trunk of Sole’s car, to strong winds that blow mementos and flowers off of graves, every ac¬tion in the movie makes sense and is believable, though it first seems out of place.

With my fading high school knowledge of Spanish, I know some dialogue was not translated properly. Despite this minor set-back, Almodóvar’s film remains clear, tinted with his signature red, speaking to (and never for) women everywhere.

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