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  Publicity Stills of "Volver"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Drama
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Cast: Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16 (Brief Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/volver

Opening Day: 1 March 2007


Nominated for 2 Golden Globe R Awards, directed by Academy Award Winner Pedro Almodovar, VOLVER sets in Spain, a generational story of three women--a good mother who is desperately in love with a man who is far from being a saint, a young mother carrying a hard life upon her shoulders and an illegal hairdresser whose shop is the meeting point for all the neighborhood

Movie Review:

First, the film title is pronounced as “bol-ber” and not “volver” as in “re-volver”. So don’t you go embarrassing yourself in front of others. Oh, and it is a Spanish film for your information.

Second, the term “volver” literally means “returning” in Spanish. And the plot concerns the returning of a past which some people wish to forget. Oh, and with this plot, director Pedro Almodovar has made a film so brilliant that it doesn’t involve the usual hysterics and depressions. The comedy brings with it laughs as well as thought-provoking themes.

The well-endowed Penelope Cruz plays a mother who lives in Madrid. In an accident, her drunkard husband is killed by her daughter. Besides trying to protect the young girl, she has to grapple with her sister’s illegal hairdresser, the neighbour who has been taking care of her dying aunt, and the tragic past where her parents died in a fire.

The burden a woman has to carry on her shoulders these days, we hear you say.

Before you conveniently stereotype this 115-minute film into another one of those melodramatic tearjerkers where the characters wallow in self-pity, remember that we are talking about the genius filmmaker Almodovar here.

This is the man who had given us the intricately crafted Talk To Her (2002) and the hauntingly controversial Bad Education (2004). In his latest work, the writer-director surprises us with another well-told story that entertains and affects in the most emotionally resonating ways.

With this intelligent script, Almodovar has skillfully told a tale that involves you with his empathetic characters. Amidst the genuine laughs at the cleverly witty dialogue, you care for everyone in the film - from the noble mother to the cancer-stricken neighbour with a dark past. The screenplay won the Spanish director an award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. It is a shame that the Oscar jury didn’t recognize the superb work here.

Also bagging a Cannes Best Actress award and Oscar Best Actress nomination is Cruz, who shines in her role. The exotic beauty is at her best here, and it is amazing to see how far she has come since shooting to fame in Almodavar’s All About My Mother in 1999. With her luscious lips, her dark eye shadows, her thick hair and her curvy figure, the voluptuous actress is a feast to the male viewer’s eyes. She is also not afraid to flaunt her assets, seeing how the film frequently takes jibes at her chests. Beneath this attractive physicality, there is a fantastic performance waiting to be enjoyed.

The attention to visual detail is another of Almodovar’s strength, and it is apparent here. The well-composed shots and the rich colours engage you in scenes where red blood gradually soaks through paper, and the pale green tiles complement the kitchen setting to incredible effect.

At home, this film has won several prizes at the Goya Awards, and it has set foot to enchant audiences worldwide with its gorgeous cinematic powers - you’d leave the cinema smiling.

Movie Rating:

(An accessible foreign film featuring a clever script, as well as a loveable and charming female ensemble)

Review by John Li


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