Volver : Pedro Almodovar is rightly regarded as one of Spain’s greatest film directors. With previous titles, Talk To Her and All About My Mother, both quite dark in mood, Almodovar signalled a change in attitude with Volver. Fun, colourful and a (mostly) happy ending allow the cast of women, headed by Penelope Cruz, to do what women do best : talk to each other.
It is true that Cruz, speaking her native tongue and asked to perform roles with which she has some affinity, demonstrates a capable acting range. Aided by padded hips and a push-up bra, displays real woman curves for the first time and young master rabel might have to compete for her attention! Almodovar, a gay man with a love for “the women that raised him,” loves breasts and one key shot of Cruz, leaning over the sink, is a testament to women, their breasts and everything that we love about them. Perhaps it is also instructive to note that Cruz was cleaning a bloodied knife while we were ogling her? These women are capable.
By populating a film solely with women (the men are dispatched early on in proceedings), Almodovar tells the story of a family of women loving, encouraging and confronting each other. All in all it is quite good but never quite gets to “great” for me.