Volver (Almodovar)  -
Spanish for "Coming Back," Volver is a return to the all-female format of All About My Mother. Unlike Pedro Almodóvar's previous two pictures, the story revolves around a group of women in Madrid and his native La Mancha. (The cast received a collective best actress award at Cannes.) Raimunda (a zaftig Penélope Cruz) is the engine powering this heartfelt, yet humorous vehicle. When husband Paco (Antonio de la Torre) is murdered, Raimunda makes like Mildred Pierce to deflect attention away from daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo). After telling everyone the lout has left, she struggles to conceal his body. The other women in her life all have secrets of their own. Her sister, Sole (Lola Dueñas), for instance, has taken in their mother, Irene (a sprightly Carmen Maura). Since Irene perished in a fire, is this person a ghost or simply a woman who looks like her? Then there's their childhood friend, Agustina (Blanca Portillo), who is desperate to find out why her mother disappeared after the blaze. Was she responsible? Almodóvar deftly blends the ghost story with the murder mystery in his tribute to the Italian neo-realist films of the 1950s. The resilient Raimunda is a throwback to the earthy heroines of Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani. The latter appears in Luchino Visconti's Bellissima, which shows up on Sole's television one night (thus confirming the link). If Almodóvar's 16th feature lacks the emotional punch of the more audacious Talk to Her, it's less heavy-handed than Bad Education and Cruz is a revelation. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Customer reviews (av rating: 4.0):
Back from the Dead : Right from the opening scene of women in the cemetary it is clear that we are in a woman's world.The murder of the worthless Paco and his disposal in a deep freeze suggests that men are peripheral or hostile. What matters is the delicate web of relationships between the women. The return of the dead mother introduces elements of phantasy and comedy suggesting the we should not be too solemn about it. Penelope Cruz is a formidable screen presence but the over-riding impression is of goodteamwork. A film enjoyable rather than profound.
Good but overated : This film follows Almodovar's trademark theme of women and their relationships with each other, and is an attractive (not least due to Penelope's gorgeous presence) and moderately entertaining film. Unfortunately the plot is weak and the characters unconvincing, and the film meanders without any real purpose. The acting is rather odd with Cruz's character seemingly unfazed by anything: including the murder of her husband or the fact her daughter did it. She takes this and some even more shocking events and revelations all in her stride as if it was a normal day. Im not a huge Almodovar fan but I like his better films such as Talk to Her and All About my Mother, however, he does also make some sub-standard ones and im afraid this is one of those.
Utterly captivating :
The title says it all really! I was already a big admirer of Almodovar's work but this piece is now vying with 'todo sobre mi madre' for the coveted title of my favourite film. I took my mum to see it at the cinema, she wasn't expecting to like the film but was absolutely blown away. A genuinely life affirming story of female solidarity; stunning performances, cinematography, music and script.
Spoilt by inadequate sub-titles : It must be said that I enjoyed this film a lot, particularly when Penelope Cruz was on the screen, but it was spoilt by the awful sub-titles that often confused rather than informed. I am learning Spanish and this helped me follow the action but even so some aspects of the plot remained confusing until after the film was over and I had a chance of reading up on the reviews. Certainlt, as has been already pointed out, one cannot have a word for word translation (and when faced with rapid Spanish this is even more difficult)however I do feel in this case the sub-titles were completely inadequate.
The extra features were excellent and revealing, well worth the price of admission by themselves.
missing translation : I just thought I should write a review in responce to H. McQueen's efforts. This is a good film that I enjoyed at the cinema. It's entertaining, fun and contains some good cinematography at times. It is by no means a masterpiece.
With regards to the subtiltles remark; I am sure that subtitles are not meant to contain a word for word translation. The purpose of subtiltles is surly to alow us to understand the film and the meaning of what is being said. It is far better to miss words or even full sentences out if it alows the viewer to read the subtiltles comfortably. I am sure that if they had included a word for word version then I would not have been able to cope.
However I was able to follw the story, get to know the characters and sit back and enjoy the film. Surely that is the most important thing.
A good film that is worth watching by a great director.
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