Volver (2006)

Director:  Pedro Almodovar
Cast:  Penélope CruzCarmen MauraLola Dueñas
Plot:  After her death, a mother returns to her home town in order to fix the situations she couldn't resolve during her life.

Genre:  Comedy / Crime / Drama
Awards:  Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Leading Actress.  Won Best Actress & Screenplay and nom. for Palme d'Or (Cannes).
Runtime:  121min
Rating:  NC16 for some sexual content and language.

IN RETROSPECT (Short Review)

Volver is Pedro Almodovar's most accessible film to date, exploring issues such as communication problems, and the common generation gap that most societies face.  The impressive thing about Volver lies in the structure of the plot. 

Almodovar tells his story in a way that subtly hints at the issues mentioned above, while packaging it like a gentle soap opera.  It starts out with cultural vibrancy, then slowly (and unexpectedly) becomes creepy.  But when matters become clearer, the suspense disperses, and the drama sets in.

Penelope Cruz looks right at home in Spanish surroundings, giving a polished performance as a mother living a problematic life.  The rest of the cast lends steady support to Cruz, with Carmen Maura giving an emotional display.  

The plot gets more complex along the way, requiring nothing less than full attention to be able to grasp what the film is trying to impart to the viewer.  Volver sometimes get distracting with too many subplots, and is definitely not the tightest script around.

Volver, unlucky not to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. is probably not going to generate a lot of buzz compared to other foreign offerings in the same year like Pan's Labyrinth.  Nevertheless, Almodovar crafts his work like an old master, ensuring that Volver remains one of the more enriching (though imperfect) foreign films to be released in 2006.

Verdict:  Almodovar handles with dexterity a range of emotions in this intriguingly-structured drama.


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