Wednesday, December 06, 2006


by Nick
In 1999 Almodovar's mother died and it's obvious something about this event changed his state of mind, his perspective. A more somber artist, more mature, less given to the screaming hysteria of his earlier work emerged from that. I personally wonder how, even if, a film like Bad Education would have been made if his mother were still alive.

Volver is obviously him working out the trauma of losing his mother. Yet it's as much a film about dealing with the living as the dead. And, as is his wont, it's the women who have to deal with the consequences of men's actions.

The problem I have had in reviewing Volver has much to do with that while I know it's a good film, might even be a very good film, I didn't feel it. How explain why you had a lack of film for a film? While there may be good thoughts and themes in the film, I mean, I know there was, I found nothing under the surface. A lack of emotional undercurrent, you might say.

It's a pleasant film. It's, as usual, usually funny, people dealing with dealing with tragedy with that distinctly Almodovian mix of hysteria and panache. And it's very nice to look at, nice production design, but nothing engaged me, made me feel it was real.

I think the best way to summarize my feelings is Penelope Cruz. The woman is a goddess in this film. All those who have been speaking of Cruz as one of the great beauties of the screen, all right, I get it now. But there's no way such a magnificent woman works as a cleaner. I might admire how Cruz' skills in trying to project herself as a regular salt of the earth type, but there's no way I'm going to believe it. There are no great panoramas of pain written in her face, even though by the end of the film you realize there clearly should be.

In the end I feel for the film much the same way I feel for that glorious behind Cruz carries and swishes around throughout the film. It's looks great, but I just know it's fake.


Blogger Brian said...

Finally got to see it tonight, and I enjoyed it a lot. I'd actually agree with your criticisms, but I guess I didn't feel like they got in the way for me. I didn't like it as much as All About My Mother, but I think I liked it better than the other Almodóvar films I've seen.

And while I've always thought of Cruz as a good actress, she's on a whole different level here. It's not even that her acting was any better than before (although it is), but just that she's never had the kind of authority as a screen presence than she does here. It's a genuine movie star turn, and even if she wasn't particularly believable as a cleaner, that seems somehow beside the point. I didn't feel that she was really supposed to be a salt of the earth type, but rather an idealized, almost deified version version of a working class mom.

12/28/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I think it's the fact that it started out as something of a genre movie, but then when it switched over to being a more realistic - albeit still melodramatic - film, all that came before jars as a whole.

It could've worked for me as something fairytaleish, but as realism the film feels more like a pastel coloured soap opera.

I'm all for bending genres but this time it doesn't work. For me, that is, everyone else seems to love it, and I also can understand why.

1/13/2007 09:57:00 AM  

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