Sunday, December 17, 2006

Movie Review -- Volver

Yes, folks. Tis the season when My Muse starts its annual Countdown to Oscar, 2007. D and I have already spent hours on the phone coming up with the best-possible strategy for seeing the most movies that will receive a nomination.

Truly, it's an addiction.

So let's begin the season with Volver, a Pedro Almodóvar film starring Penélope Cruz as Raimunda, the mother of a teenage daughter living in Madrid, Spain who faces both the aftereffects of murder and the ghost of her mother (played by Carmen Maura) who returns after the death of her sister to fix the problems she never resolved while she was living. The mother returns first to Raimunda's sister, Sole (played by Lola Dueñas) who works as an illegal hairdresser from her apartment. It is a film about life and death and family and friendship and forgiveness, both of oneself and of the people in one's life. And in some ways this is a film more than anything else about being female, female in modern Spain, and the bonds between women.

The story is excellent and beautifully crafted, but it would perhaps have fallen flat without such amazing performances all around. Cruz shines in her role; I've never been a huge fan of her films; she has always struck me as a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera, more a pretty face than an actress. But this film changed my view. When speaking her native Spanish, Cruz is a natural and on the same level as some of the great actresses of the day, and her Golden Globe nomination earlier this week is earned, deserved. There is a lot of comedy in the film, but also a lot of drama; Cruz and the other actresses must span a range of emotions, sometimes seemingly contradictory emotions, and every turn of feeling is real and not overplayed. It is a somewhat quiet film without the over-the-top action that dominates so many movies, a film that delves into some of humanity's most shared yet complex experiences.

Hopefully the rest of you will be fortunate enough to see this in the theater. Visually the film takes off on the big screen, though I fear that it won't make it to many towns. I give it four big stars!!! An excellent start to the season's best films!


Blogger Cibbuano said...

It's showing here in Sydney, but I think I'd like to see it at the outdoor cinema...

8:13 PM  

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