English Title: The Flower of My Secret
Original Title: La flor de mi secreto
Country: Spain, France
Language: Spanish, French
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Director/Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Music: Alberto Iglesias
Cinematography: Affonso Beato
Rossy de Palma
Juan José Otegui
As a successful romantic novelist, Leo Macías (Paredes) lives on the easy street of Madrid, but middle-age crisis starts kicking in, the relationship with her husband Paco (Arias), a military officer who goes out of his way to be stationed in foreign countries (a typical cop-out move of the guilty part), is on the rocks, which significantly cripples her output of cloying love stories, and under contractual obligation and a nom-de-plume clause which gives her the freedom of anonymity, her high-flying career might take a sea change when she seeks to publish her latest anti-romantic works through a newspaper editor Angel (Echanove), who begins to take a shine for her.
THE FLOWER OF MY SECRET, Almodóvar’s 11th feature, might as well echo his own creativity struggle at that mid-point in his life, between churning out familiar stories that promise stability or breaking out from his comfort zone to map out new territory, an artist’s perpetual dilemma, that is.
Leo’s latent desire to shucking off her status quo and persistent loneliness is comically symbolized by a pair of shoes that Paco bought for her years ago that now becomes too tight for her to take it off, and cannot reach her maid Blanca (flamenco dancer Vargas, who will not exeunt without a fiery rendition), she has to cross the city to ask her best friend Betty (Elias) for help. Tellingly, female friendship is never simply a friend-or-foe dichotomy in Almodóvar’s understanding, here it is complicated by secrets, conflicted by feelings but ultimately benevolent, and men, on the other hand, are less so, Paco’s egotistic ultimatum prompts Leo to suicidal actions, Angel’s banal affection looks more like a stopgap than a soul-mate for her, and Blanca’s son Antonio (Cortés), is stripped down to a dunderhead with an improbable sense of naiveté, to whom Leo symbolically grants a gratitude than taking advantage of his corporeal gesture.
Thankfully, the school of hard knocks is graced by Marisa Paredes’ viscerally doleful star-turn in the center, to incarnate a woman who is aspiring to burn the bridge and plow on over a dead-end marriage with a renewed direction of life, and the most ebullient parts are those with her mother and sister (Lampreave and de Palma respectively), when motormouth meets loudmouth, both are extraordinarily funny as the bickering duo, plus we must give the mother the credit for doling out her cracker-barrel philosophies and Lampreave is particularly swell in delivering her lines with a delicious cadence.
At any rate, THE FLOWER OF MY SECRET is Almodóvar’s more conventional and sympathetic practice of his slant on female emotional provenance, it might stem from love (even a lopsided one), family (even it is affixed with constant squabbling) or friendship (even if contains betrayal), but most of all, there is a form of vitality as immanent as a woman’s tears, vulnerable it seems, but the operative word here is “indissoluble”.