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Volver

Pedro Almodóvar

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As fantastical and disturbing as the plot of Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver is, it’s remarkable to discover what a profoundly personal effect the film has had on the director and his cast. In an accompanying AFI tribute to Penélope Cruz, the gifted lead actress is interviewed by film critic Kenneth Turan and, beyond gushing about working with Almodóvar, she discusses the difficulty of summarising the story of Volver, whose title means "to return” in Spanish. It is indeed a complex tale, dealing with Raimunda (Cruz), a spirited wife and mother coping with the loss of her parents some years ago. Though she’s a vibrant, lovable beauty, Raimunda has an aura of resignation about her that she conceals better than her sister and daughter. As the story unfolds, Raimunda must dispose of her husband’s body after her daughter halts his incestuous advances by inadvertently stabbing him to death. After her elderly aunt passes away, Raimunda picks up on traces of her mother’s essence and soon suspects that she may have actually returned from the grave. So Cruz is correct to suggest that it’s a difficult, multi-layered story and it’s quite fascinating to hear her co-star, Carmen Maura, describe the film as "a comedy” to a reporter inquiring about its dark themes at Cannes. Almodóvar also believes the film’s colourful content is not so shocking, given his home region of La Mancha, where death is greeted with celebrations of life and the eternally departed are spoken of as if they’re still present. Volver is Almodóvar’s charmingly twisted rumination on death and a celebration of his childhood, which was shaped by strong-willed, nurturing women overcoming terrible obstacles. The story is endearingly haunting and it’s easy to understand how the filmmaker’s writing inspired such passionate performances from his loyal cast. Plus: commentary, more. (Mongrel Media)
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