Published Dec 17, 2009Pedro Almodovar is arguably the most celebrated Spanish film director of all time, and it's easy to see why with his latest, Broken Embraces. It opens on actors being prepared for a shoot while a camera frames them and watches them candidly before cutting directly to an extreme close-up of an actual eye.
The act of watching and the subsequent act of being watched will go on to shape the entire film and under Almodovar's delicate and respectful eye the shape it creates proves that his vision is only getting better with age.
While Almodovar may be directing the picture, it is Harry Caine (Lluis Homar) who's the director on screen. Only this director has lost his sight in an accident and now only writes, as if that is some lesser function. He plays the narrator to the film we are watching and, like the man who invented him on page, is one heck of a storyteller.
Broken Embraces is a twisted thriller that ties a torrid love affair, a tormenting husband and a tortured son together, and places it all behind the scenes of a film set. To further blur the lines between art and reality, Almodovar casts long-time muse Penelope Cruz as Caine's source of inspiration. Like the man who propelled her into the international spotlight, Cruz is only getting better and more beautiful with time.
With Broken Embraces, Almodovar has created a richly layered work that requires a steady hand to be done right and, while his command is controlled and impressive, he comes off as playful and cool. Heightened by first-time collaborator Rodrigo Pietro's deliberate and stunning cinematography, Almodovar has made another contemporary classic that will certainly earn him many more accolades and admirers by honouring his roots and the fans that have gotten him this far to begin with. (Mongrel Media)