I am a big fan of movie previews. As a marketing guy, I like watching how movies are presented to build hype and excitement. I rarely go into a movie without watching its trailer first. But sometimes, just sometimes, it is nice to go into a movie knowing absolutely nothing about it.
Such is the case with Volver, the latest film from legendary filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, Bad Education, All About My Mother), which stars Penelope Cruz as Raimunda, a mother who finds herself at the middle of a family crossroads. Three years after her parents' unpleasant death in a fire, she is struggling to get by with her husband and daughter. After her husband attempts to rape his own daughter, the girl kills him with a knife, and Raimunda ends up hiding the death to protect her child. Meanwhile, the aunt who raised her has just passed awaybut when her sister goes to the funeral, she meets an unexpected visitor: their dead mother.
Any time you sit down for a movie by Almodóvar, you know you're not going to get a normal film. His films predominantly star women or people who tend to blend the lines of sexuality, and the plots normally twist both in story and emotion. Volver is no exception. The movie ranges from comical to deathly serious, and just when you think you've figured everything out, he adds one more emotional layer to the mix for good fun. Volver, not unlike Bad Education, plays out like some strange concoction of Hitchcock, Shakespeare and something else, and the result is a pleasantly intriguing movie that stands out as one of the more unique dramas of 2006.
Volver starts out a little slowly, but after the first turn of events quickly draws the audience in for the rest of the film. Almodóvar takes his time developing the stories and characters, and polishes everything to near perfection. The movie does struggle a bit in the last five minutes as it seems Almodóvar didn't know how to end the story, but this is of minor concern.
Cruz also delivers one of the best performances of her career.
Volver is an intriguing, unique drama that offers up just a little bit of everything. You never know what to expect, and when you think you have it all figured out, Almodóvar does something to flip things on their head again. Volver isn't as momentous as some other films in 2006, but is certainly recommended to those looking for something that isn't standard Hollywood fare.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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