Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos)

Movies Reviews Pedro Almodóvar
Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos)

Release Date: Nov. 20 (New York)
Director/Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Lluís Homar, Blanca Portillo
Run Time: 128 mins.

Celebrated director explores life through movies

Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film is an anthology of his previous obsessions—its haunting score (courtesy of long-time collaborator Alberto Iglesias) and deep hues evoke the melodramatic aesthetic that has defined his work since 1997’s Live Flesh. This is a movie about seeing and being seen, a fact that is evident from the dazzling opening sequence that begins with a close-up of a woman’s eye, in which you can see the reflection of a newspaper. The woman reads the paper to a blind man, Harry Caine (Lluís Homar)—a movie director who, 14 years earlier, lost both his vision and his beloved Lena (Penélope Cruz) in a tragic car accident. Broken Embraces shifts between the present and past, when Harry Caine met Lena and cast her as the lead role in Chicas y maletas (“Girls and Suitcases”), a delicious remake of Almodóvar’s first international hit, 1988’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

The director/protagonist reveals the autobiographical register of Broken Embraces, which is, in the end, the story of a man who makes sense of his life through movies. This film-within-a-film contains many insider references—don’t miss the final scene in which Penélope Cruz imitates Pepa, Carmen Maura’s character from Women on the Verge. Caine, Almodóvar and the audience watch as the fetish actress of Almodóvar’s middle age reincarnates the actress that helped catapult him onto the international stage.

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