Volver (2006)

I borrowed a DVD box from my sister with Pedro Almodóvar movies. The first one I watched was Volver with Penelope Cruz.

As is almost typical with Almodóvar movies, this one has mainly women in it. And the one man that does have somewhat of a part, gets killed. But yet that doesn’t mean this movie is necessarily a chick flick. It’s about trying to make it, dealing with death and goodbyes. About new beginnings and old stories being brought forward.

I’ve always been a bit sceptic about Penelope Cruz. Maybe the Cruise relationship… or the trailers with her in American movies never made me want to go see the movie. I’ve got the feeling that her English roles are kind of light-hearted. In Volver, she is a strong woman. She plays incredibly good and the look she has, the kind of 50’s Gina Lollobrigida-look definitely makes her look vavavoom.

The story is about Raimunda (Cruz) and her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas) who go back to the town they are originally from, to take care of their parents tomb stones, as is the custom in the towns of La Mancha. Their parents died during a fire (and as the movie unfolds, this is really what the movie is about, yet never directly.)

Together with Raimunda’s daughter, Paula, they go visit their demented aunt, who seems to be coping remarkably well, though as confused as a door knob, practically immobile and alone. Though Augustina, the aunt’s neighbour keeps a close eye. She is mostly preoccupied by the search of her mother, who was the only hippie in town, and who disappeared on the night of asfire at Raimunda’s parents.

Back in Madrid, Raimunda and Sole hear their aunt died over night… but Raimunda can’t go back to the village with her sister to wake over the body – she and her daughter Paula have their own body to take care of… that of her husband Paco…

I have heard mixed opinions from people I know and colleagues on Almodóvar movies. Some are for them, others dislike them. This was my first and I enjoyed it. I like his style. How he tells a story. The everyday women he has in the story somehow become extraordinary women, but not because they do an extraordinary thing. Just because they deal with their own problems and bite through. It has humor and it is subtle. Recognizable situations, yet fun to watch.

I did do it the hard way: being Dutch speaking, I watched the Spanish movie with French subtitling. The box does not have Dutch or English subtitling. And though I do have (contrary to what my Spanish teachers think or Spanish family members I will not name) notions of Spanish, it is hard to understand the actors when they speak fast. It was a linguistic battle, but it wasn’t that tiresome to watch. I enjoyed it actually.

So here is a little trailer to give you some idea. But it is really a good movie, and worth the Palm d’Or it won in Cannes….


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