For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Latin Directors, here’s a review of Volver (2006) by Reut of Sweet Archive
Thanks again to Anna of Film Grimoire for choosing this month’s genre.
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by James of Back to the Viewer. We will be reviewing our favorite movies featuring a dystopian world (past or future). Please get me your submissions by 25th April by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org Try to think out of the box! Great choice James!
Let’s see what Reut thought of this movie
I’m a first timer in MovieRob’s excellent Genre Grandeur and I’m happy to contribute my film review on this month’s topic of Latino directors chosen by the wonderfully talented Anna of Film Grimoire. Rob, I love your ideas for film reviews and happy to participate always. Thanks for having me!
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Synopsis: having faced a difficult past, sisters Sole and Raimunda’s world is rocked when finding out their mother is still alive after years of believing she died in a tragic fire. Dark family secrets are gradually revealed when the mother returns to make amends and tie-up loose ends.
Volver is really one of my favorites. I love absolutely everything about this film starting with the cast; Penelope Cruz as Raimunda, Lola Dueñas as Sole, Carmen Maura as the mother, Blanca Portillo as Augustina and Yohana Cobo as Paula, a brilliant ensemble of women. In Volver Almodóvar portrays these women as wounded flowers, still remaining firm against the strong winds of family crisis. Each woman has her own sad story to cope with. This film presents layers of family hardships assimilated in a three generations, drawing past stories of betrayal and sexual abuse which have left an irremovable stain on everyone involved. It was filmed in the south of Madrid, in the La Mancha region, also Almodóvar’s place of birth.
The plot originates in a 1995 Almodóvar film called The Flower of My Secret as a novel. A film within a film. Main actress, Marisa Paredes, was the one to tell Almodóvar of the original story when he chose to develop it slightly different, only incorporating elements of it in Volver. Instead of Raimunda being only a supporting character, in Almodóvar’s version she’s the main one and the plot revolves around her, her sister and her mother.
Volver’s whirlwind dramatic plot is well blended with realism and humor which makes the film a dish well served under Spanish lights and flamenco clapping. The characters share this aura of elegant simplicity which makes the acting extremely authentic, and I, for one, sometimes forget it’s only a film. I can watch it over and over again. Almodóvar tends to use the same faces in his films when his array of actresses especially is quite familiar. Penelope Cruz also appeared on All About My Mother, and Broken Embraces and Carmen Maura is well remembered from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Absolute masterpieces, all of them! I actually had a difficulty choosing which one of his films I want to write about. There are plenty to choose from. Volver had such a significant influence on me so eventually I decided to go with that.
My favorite scene is no doubt the one in the restaurant where Raimunda’s hosting a film crew on their last day of shooting. Noticing Spanish guitars playing, she’s offering to join in when performing a flamenco version of the song “Volver”, lip syncing the remarkable voice of Estrella Morente. I always find this scene so emotional and a perfect sum-up of the entire film. Penelope Cruz looks stunning and reveals an immaculate Spanish beauty and essence, but also a lot of pain and loneliness. I can’t help myself but tear up every time I’m watching this scene or simply listening to this song. I don’t understand a word of it, but it says everything.
Having the film shot in his place of birth Almodóvar slightly cites some of the occurring events on personal family stories, a fact that immense the films intensity and authenticity. To you who’ve never seen it and into foreign films, I highly recommend watching this one or putting it high up on your “to watch” list.
My score: 5/5