The title of Pedro Almodovar’s recent film, Volver (DVD 2783), resonates with his fans. Volver; to return. It’s how we feel when we stumble out of a theater after seeing one of his releases. Well, it’s how I feel. I get the urge to queue up again at The Charles; plop down another eight bucks for a ticket; and spend a few more hours with my eyes glued to the screen.
In the film, Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) lives in Madrid with her daughter Paula and her layabout husband Paco. Her divorced sister, Sole, works off the books as a hairstylist. The two lost their mother and father in a tragic fire in La Mancha, the village where they were born, years ago, but they occasionally return to see family and visit the graves of their parents. Paula, their enfeebled and aging aunt, still lives in the La Mancha and continues to speak about her sister Irene, mother of the two sisters, as if she were still alive. When their aunt dies, their lives change and the past returns.
Despite it’s being a story of death, abuse, terminal illness, and betrayal, the film never subsides into despair or absurdity. Almodovar skillfully covers the most difficult of subjects in a moving but gently comic way.
Collectively, the female ensemble cast, won the best actress award at Cannes. The strength of these actresses, and Penelope Cruz in particular (I haven’t been a fan of hers in the past but the critical acclaim she received in this role is well deserved), is more reminiscent of the Almodovar’s All About My Mother (DVD 110), rather than the more recent Bad Education (DVD 1714) and Talk to Her (DVD 727). The AV Center has all four of these Pedro Almodovar movies, among others. He’s been recognized as one of the strongest living directors, and we’ve begun to collect a fair amount . They are stunning, certainly, and unforgettably entertaining.