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Friday, February 17, 2012

LOS ABRAZOS ROTOS / BROKEN EMBRACES (2009)

Pulling back from recent dips into philosophy & metaphysics, Pedro Almodovar treats himself (and us) to a cinematic reverie, piecing together this melodramatic tale of a blinded filmmaker who can’t move forward until he figures out, reclaims & makes peace with his past. Lluís Homar is the wary writer who fell for a rich man’s mistress (Penélope Cruz) 16 years ago, and never got over it. But neither did the obsessed, revenge-seeking tycoon (in the past) nor, apparently, the man’s unstable son (in the present). But leaving behind the emotional residue of the romantic Liebestod-mystery his life turned into means integrating what he remembers of the past with what he can learn in the present. It's just the sort of tricky timeline structure Almodovar revels in; re-editing a life the way the movie re-edits a film-within-the-film. The story is probably too perfectly rounded to be taken seriously, but as a newfangled old-fashioned family drama, it’s more or less irresistible. And the locations! Check out those black landscapes on the drive to Golfo Beach. What a view!

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Perhaps because Homar works in the biz, Almodovar uses more cinematic reference points than he has in decades, from Rossellini to Kubrick; Hitchcock to . . . Almodovar! Yep, at the climax, he gets to self-reference himself, giddily recreating the look of his own international breakthrough, WOMEN ON THE VERGE/’88.)

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