Broken Embraces

Penélope Cruz, Lluis Homar, Blanca Portillo

Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar, 2009)

Harry Caine, a blind writer, reaches this moment in time when he has to heal his wounds from 14 years back. He was then still known by his real name, Mateo Blanco, and directing his last movie.

I don't get Almodovar. I've seen few of his films, and have never come away satisfied. Are we supposed to relate to the characters, identify with them, as we normally do in a routine film?

Almodovar does not seem to me to abide by the usual rules of Hollywood continuity. If so, is this is meant to be a good thing, in his case? Scenes often begin in mid-closeup, with no establishing shot or track in - just straight into the middle of the scene, in medias res. Is this just his 'style', and another good thing?

There's a movie in a movie in this. Apparently the one inside is meant to be a comedy. I suppose that means that the frame movie is not. Maybe.

This is apparently supposed to show the director's love of cinema. It left me with a love of nothing except going to bed.

Peter Travers, in Rolling Stone: "You may get whiplash following the twists and turns in the latest wild ride from Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar. But it hurts so good. Broken Embraces is the fourth film in which Almodóvar has directed his muse, Penélope Cruz. They bring out something elemental in each other, even when a plot defies description. Cruz plays Lena, a hooker-turned-actress who falls for her Almodóvar-ish director (Lluís Homar), who uses makeup, wigs and wardrobe to morph her into sexual fantasies men can watch. Then a car crash ends Lena’s life and the director’s career until…
Well, I’ll never tell. What I will conjecture is that Broken Embraces, lyrically shot by Rodrigo Prieto, represents Almodóvar’s broken love affair with film itself — how a camera can lie and keep secrets that maybe only another camera can reveal. Got that? Doesn’t matter. Cruz exudes a sensual aura of mystery that holds you spellbound. And Almodóvar, a true poet of cinema, creates images — horrifying and healing — that live inside your head like a waking dream. You want to miss a movie like that? I didn’t think so."

Garry Gillard | New: 10 March, 2017 | Now: 5 February, 2020