Three generation of Spanish women, Raimunda (Pénelope Cruz), her teenage daughter (Yohana Cobo) and her hairdresser sister, Sole (Lola Dueñas), are coping as best they can since the death of their mother and grandmother Abuela (Carmen Maura), who died some years earlier, along with her husband, in a mysterious fire. However, all is not as it seems in the village and unresolved matters within the family and with neighbour Agustina (Blanca Portillo) bubble to the surface.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If ever there was such a thing as grand melodrama, many of Pedro Almodóvar's works would certainly fit the description, and Volver (accent on the second v and long last syllable) is the grandest of them all. What is often remarkable about Almodóvar's work is that if you took his script and threw away his cast, handed the pages to a tv producer, they'd end up as hugely popular afternoon soaps. Such is Almodóvar's gift for taking a trinket and turning it into a jewel. (Although I doubt a tv exec would accept a script that has two male characters, neither of them good guys and one of them never even seen.)
With Volver, he begins playfully, teasing us with mysterious elements that seem to be mere fluff, before the revelations glue the film together with force. In fact, Almodóvar challenges us critics to talk about the film without spoiling the twists and turns and revelations that make the film so rewarding. So I'll say as little as possible about the story and its complexities, and stick to the performances.
Penelope Cruz gives Almodóvar everything he asks for as the mother whose secrets lie at the bottom of the story. Cruz is feisty, engaging, vulnerable yet pragmatic when cornered. She is superbly supported by teenager Yohana Cobo as her daughter, and Lola Dueñas as her sister. Almodóvar's longtime screen collaborator Carmen Maura has the toughest role, needing to play from deep, age-old pain and yet retain a lightness to draw us in.
Together with Blanca Portillo, these five women populate a world of love betrayed, sexual abuse, guilt, alienation and finally - as the title implies - love returned from a long absence. But how all this is done is what's magic about Volver, a sleight of hand that had the Cannes audience (the real ticket buying public, not the gala invitees surrounding the interested parties and filmmakers) clapping enthusiastically on May 19, 2006.
Special treats on the DVD include interviews with Pedro Almodovar, Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura and a featurette.
Published July 12, 2007
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VOLVER: DVD (M)
CAST: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, Chus Lampreave, Leandro Rivera
PRODUCER: Esther Garcia
DIRECTOR: Pedro Almodóvar
SCRIPT: Pedro Almodóvar
CINEMATOGRAPHER: José Luis Alcaine
MUSIC: Alberto Iglesias
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Salvador Parra
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 21, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature; interviews with Pedro Almodovar, Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura; trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
DVD RELEASE: July 4, 2007