Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Un Amistad Hermoso

Not everyone has praised Pedro Almodovar's latest effort, Broken Embraces, but I am happy to say that I, for one, loved it. The film is a little slow getting going, maybe, since Penelope Cruz isn't around much in the first half hour or so, but once she hits the screen, the story comes alive, and we have our fourth beautiful collaboration of the Spanish visionary and his muse.
The film of course has some awe-inspiring images to feast your eyes upon. A radiant Cruz sports a hundred and a half different hairstyles and flashy costumes, and the color palette is signature Almodovar: vibrant, florid, and stunning.
The story itself is somewhat labyrinthian, but Cruz - and a host of other actors in first-rate performances - successfully ground the picture in a noirish celebration of Almodovar's cinematic inspirations. One point I've seen criticized is that the film is over-indulgent, citing perhaps a few too many references to influential cinema (*cough*Tarantino*cough*). I'd disagree. It's a stunning tribute from Almodovar to the filmmakers who have molded his style and his vision. And hey, I think they deserve the recognition.
The most impressive part of Broken Embraces is Penelope Cruz's turn as aspiring actress Lena. Cruz has very quickly become one of our greatest actresses, and this film proves yet again that she possesses that magical quality which forbids you from looking away while she's onscreen. She's got two much talked about films out this year (she plays a film director's mistress in both, oddly enough), and while her supporting role in the musical Nine is perhaps the one most awards pundits are watching, her work with Almodovar is what I look forward to more than anything else. These are two artists clearly most at home in each other's company, and the result is a breathtaking banquet of aesthetic thrills.


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