Broken Embraces

Oscar winner Penélope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona") brings her star power to Pedro Almodóvar's latest effort. This is, once again, a great pairing of a writer/director and a highly acclaimed actress ("Live Flesh," "Volver," and "All About My Mother"), but in my opinion, the most outstanding performance is one by an actor I have never seen before, Lluis Homar; but that's my fault, he's been working hard since 1978!

Almodóvar is best known for his impressive direction of actresses, and this film is no different. Key roles are performed by:
  • Penélope Cruz (see above) plays a secretary in desperate need for extra cash to help her grievously ill father. She calls a former employer (a madam) and begs for part time work.
  • Lluís Homar plays a scriptwriter/movie director who auditions Cruz for a film role. Even though she isn't very good, he is so smitten with her that he casts her in the lead.
  • Blanca Portillo ("Volver") is an often-honored actress in Europe. Here she plays the director's vitally important assistant, always efficient, always vigilant, always anticipating his every need.
  • Ángela Molina ("Live Flesh") is our heroine's desperate mother, seeking help for her ailing husband.
  • José Luis Gómez ("Goya's Ghosts") is the handsome son of that efficient assistant. He too, assists the director/scriptwriter and is collaborating with him on a script about vampires.

Almodóvar is a terrific director. His movies are accessible, interesting, and competently shot. He tends to lean toward the melodramatic, but I usually forgive him because his movies deserve it (they are in Spanish with English subtitles). You can expect parent/child issues, along with secrets from the past. In other words, issues with universal appeal.