28 November 2006

Review: Volver

Genre: Drama

Pedro Almodóvar's newest release Volver is essentially his, through and through. The beautiful colors and excellent light, the classically angular use of Spanish (both the language and the people), and the raw, acute storyline that draws the blood from its characters with a shard of glass speak well of his skill as a filmmaker, director, and artist. Yet, unlike some of his other works as his penultimate Mala Educacion, this film is very well delivered, smoothly and clearly drawn out into a narrative, instead of gutturally compacted under the sways of emotion and feeling. Perhaps it was the unnervingly attractive curves of its lead Ms. Cruz or perhaps the silkily smooth flows of the fruits and flowers, that figure so often; but, whatever the reason, Sr. Almodóvar has certainly refined a 'something' that bends the narrative into a placour that leads just beyond the horizon, where you seek to go, only later to find that te has vuelto, though wiser for the quest, gazing back upon your beginning, spherical the world and your journey through it.
That, of course, represents the best of Volver (and Ms. Cruz' performance is not of that oustanding, it well-toned and subtly shaky excellently). The worst, which in reality is not terribly bad, is that, I find, the plot more than seldom is awfully soap-operatic, maudlin and trite, mushy from caramel sweetness desgined with a marketing mind to hit all the vulnerable crevices of the female sensibility without much thought as to how such hittings might bleed through the rest of the work, like the scarlet blood through Ms. Cruz' Raimunda's paper towel. Though this tact may just be in the way of Spanish dramas and novelas, it is not a rewarding tact for serious drama, which, I suspect, Mr. Almodóvar aimed to create. It is far too flabby, too loose, too limp, to be so; and despite the director's redeeming hand (and the structural uprightness of everything Ms. Cruz) it cripples the film from being its potential: truly breathtaking.

Grade: B+

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