English Title: Broken Embraces
Original Title: Los Abrazos Rotos
Language: Spanish, English
Director/Writer: Pedro Almodovar
Jose Luis Gomez
I love Almodovar’s films, the very first one I watched is TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN (1990), and I have watched almost all the rest of his works, which I admire the most is TALK TO HER (2002) and VOLVER (2006), as an true auteur, I think now he is in the prime of his career with only one barrier erected in the way, which is how to mature his unique style to match a subtler but impressionist influence, like other international film masters, to make his film accepted willingly by audience all over the globe (not only in Spain or Europe). From this point, BROKEN EMBRACES is a sound step-stone.
The film contains all kinds of picturesque Almodovar leitmotivs, from the familiar female cast (led by his new muse Penelope Cruz and a bankable Blanca Portillo), the vivid palette and the homage towards his earlier comedic works.
Clearly there is a sacrifice of the storyline to make the film itself more international (that’s why purely comedy is never an option), as the plot can be simply recapitulated as “a paramour of a mistress”, thanks to the Taiwan translation of the film (in Chinese letters is QING FU DE QING FU). The hackneyed gut does not reach our expectation of a high-end Almodovar’s film, especially after the full-fledged previous work VOLVER.
Luckily, I am still profoundly impressed by the film, one important reason is Cruz’s existential and detailed performance, with a less screen time in it than in VOLVER, but interprets her role with various dimensions (not to mention the film-in-film set piece). At the same time, in order to maintain its pathos, the story is decorated in a fine way with convincing theatrical novelties, such as the lip reading in front of a extra-widescreen and the sex scene (swiftly rotating while it is between Cruz and his sweetheart director, while fully under the sheet with her estranged bigwig); the horror-approaching feeling after a malevolent push from upstairs by her senior lover. In a word, it is the details shows Almodovar’s talent.
There is still much room to improve, though I give it an encouraging 8/10 rate, I’m looking forward to his next project, a thriller with Antonio Banderas, sounds intriguing enough for me.