This is the Blind Spot entry I’ve been looking forward to the mostest. For those of you who may be new to my site, the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar can do no wrong in my eyes. He’s my most favourite-est director and I loves him. I loves him unconditionally.
Okay, that’s enough of the bad grammar. I’m even annoying myself now.
I’ve already covered his film The Skin I Live In (2011) for another Blind Spot entry two years ago and I have talked about how much of a god damn amazing auteur he is. And recently I mentioned him in my Cannes Film Festival highlights post. His films lift my heart with colour, melodrama and they have most three-dimensional female characters of ANY director in ANY country.
So without further ado, here are my thoughts on Volver. One of Almodóvar’s finest, and it’s up there with All About My Mother (1999) and Talk to Her (2002).
To set the scene, we have Penélope Cruz plays Raimunda who lives in Madrid. She is a mother to Paula, sister to Sole and partner to Paco. Fairly recently, her mother, Irene, and her father died in a house fire. Things get a little weird when it turns out Irene’s neighbour seemingly ‘talks’ to Irene’s ghost. Sole encounters the ghost herself and the ghost even ends up stowing away in her car trunk but begs her not to tell Raimunda about her, because of secrets.
What the hell, ghost Irene?!
While all of this craziness is going on (yes, I agree you could create an entire film around this single plot line, but this is an Almodóvar film and it ain’t an Almodóvar film without at least three plots), Raimunda is having her own personal crisis. Paco attempts to rape his daughter, Paula, and whilst trying to do so proclaims he is not actually her father.
What the hec?
Sisters are doing it for themselves
On the surface, Volver Almodóvar very much feels like there are at least two separate films going on. One, the weird ghost storyline, could potentially be its own little hah-hah family comedy.
The latter, the daughter-rape storyline, could be a gritty, kitchen sink drama. Put them together and you have a melodrama.
Because actually, both of the sisters’ storylines are essential to each other. Like so many of Almodóvar’s other films, Volver is about family. It’s about women and mothers their fiercely protective motherly instincts. It’s about not letting the past repeat itself and it’s about facing your past. And if you were to take all of the men out of this film and take an average of how many of them are pigs, the answer is all of them. All men are pigs. We don’t need them.
Let’s twist again
Volver one of the best twists in Almodóvar history until the release of The Skin I Live In five years later. It’s not quite as impactful as I think you as an intelligent audience member would easily be able to guess at least half of the shock reveal in Volver.
I’ve discussed the plot quite a bit so far, but it’s the characters that make the film what it is. Penélope Cruz has never acted so well. Carmen Maura stands her ground as much as she did in any other Almodóvar film. It is no wonder that all six of the main actresses jointly won the Best Actress award for Cannes Film Festival in 2006. The story wouldn’t work without any of them, and their personal struggles, as well as their struggles as women, all feed into each other. They refuse to be victims and be burdened by their circumstance.
Oh Almodóvar, I love you. Never leave us. We need you now more than ever.
Have you ever seen Volver? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!