Monday, 6 January 2014

Review - Volver (2006 - Dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

(After the runaway success of the Motivational Growth review with its own chiptune soundtrack, Doccortex has decided to base a whole season on a song. So feel free to listen to this lovely song as you read - evlkeith)

In our Ladies' Night Season we examine a selection of films with strong female leads. Surely it can't be any worse than The Luc Besson Season (It'd have to be going some - evlkeith). We kick off with the highly enjoyable Volver...

Occasionally a film brings to life a location with such vividness and realism that you feel absorbed into the setting. Volver’s representation of the superstitious little village of Alcanfor de las Infantas and surrounding area is one of those moments. You want to return and live there long after the film has finished, such is the warmth, emotion and detail that is generated. And although not situated in the village, you want to share a meal at Raimunda’s restaurant and listen her sing.

It’s also one of those films when not much happens. Okay, there’s death, illness and people return from the dead, but ultimately the film is about the characters and how they celebrate all the intricacies of life. The line between the living and the dead is blurred in an intelligent way and although the themes are melancholy the film somehow manages to produce a joyous festival of what it means to be alive.

I’d never really noticed Penelope Cruz before apart from her supporting role in Vicky Christina Barcelona. In Volver however, she is incredible, and the best way to describe her performance has already been used in the IMDb review by Rene; she is ‘a force of nature.’ She’s strong, beautiful, passionate and believable, as the suddenly widowed Raimunda.

The rest of the all female leads are equally natural, with Carmen Maura’s ‘Irene’ and Lola Duenas’ ‘Sole’ both worthy of special note. Only Blanca Portillo breaks the illusion of real life with a slightly over the top performance as the spooky ‘returning’ mother, who looks crazed and disturbed in equal measure.

It’s great fun and a quality film, and it somehow manages to avoid classification in any of the tired old genre slots. If you fancy a trip to rural Spain, avoid all the heat and the hassle, just watch Volver instead.


If you like this you could also try:
All About my Mother, The Sea Inside, Open Your Eyes.

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