Volver Film Review
Pedro Almodovar is probably the most famous Spanish director for the last twenty-five years. The list of his best works includes All about My Mother, Talk to Her, and Bad Education. Surprisingly, Spanish critics are very skeptical about Almodovar works. His films are full of melodramatic clichés and bright emotions. Volver (2006) is not an exception because there are many killings, secrets, incest, the dead mother from the other world, and the corpse in the refrigerator in it. At the same time, Volver is a very lyrical film about a family return to motherland Castilla-La Mancha. That is just La Mancha where both Almodovar and Don Quixote come from. At the Cannes Festival this film won the award for Best Screenplay and Best Actress (by the way, the last prize was shared between all the actresses of the film). Moreover, Volver got a huge number of other international prestigious awards and nominations. This essay is a review of this Spanish film with Penelope Cruz playing the role of the main heroine.
It just happened so that men think women are unpredictable, impulsive, and mysterious ones; and women’s actions are illogical. It seems surprising that one of the main experts on women psychology is a film director Pedro Almodovar. It should be said that in Volver he continues one of his main themes – woman’s life. Even being homosexual, that man shows women’s souls very sincerely. Sure, a woman is made for love, family, and relationship; and he seems to accept that axiom. Primarily, for Almodovar a woman is also a mystery. He does not try to solve it, but quite the contrary: he enhances the desire to understand the female nature. Volver is the most female, passionate, and unusual film about the hard woman’s fate. This story is about three generations of women (grandmother, mother, and daughter), who are presented through the prism of family, friendship, love, and neighbor relations. The film is touching, good, and real. It shows strength and real emotions. In my opinion, very few people can make a film with such a scenario and show an unvarnished real life so honestly and sincerely.
Though it can hardly be called a drama, yet this genre is the right one for this film. Yes, there are some traces of humor, a storyline is full of fantastic events, but still Volver is a drama, with inserts of various genres. Finally, all these items together create a colorful mosaic of ordinary life. Single women desperately fight for their future in a world where there is no place for men. The symbols of this half-universe are widows in the beautiful shawls caring for the graves of their loved ones on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Here they have to carry on their fragile shoulders a whole load of hard life, responsibility, and refrigerators stuffed with corpses. A scene of graveyard cleaning in the village is also symbolic because it shows death as an inseparable part of human perception of life, especially for young women deprived of mother’s support, but being in need for tenderness and love. People of all ages need parents’ support. Mother needs to be near her daughter, who also needs to be understood by her daughter. The film does not seek for salvation in madness and dreams. It makes people forget old insults and complexes and with mindless childish tenderness hug parents’ shoulders if you are lucky to сome home, not to the cemetery gates.
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The main heroine Raimundo (Penelope Cruz) has to be strong and independent; she is full of resourcefulness and courage. Careless hairstyle and dark stains around the eyes are distinctive features of this characteristic. As a sign of a real woman, she has a fear of small things and unshakable determination in moments of severe shocks. Raimundo works on 5 jobs to support herself, her lazy husband, and her teenage daughter Paula (Ioana Kobo). She is surrounded by her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas), working part time as a hairdresser at home; their mother, coming back from the dead; the young daughter, early met with the cruel world of adults; and a friend Agustina, looking after their own grave in the cemetery. None of the women described in the film can be suspected in holiness because each has her own little secret and sin.
Three generations, three circles of family secrets, unbroken chain of events, and the central theme of the film can be not only the return of Carmen Maura’s heroine from the dead. These all can also be a statement that all life situations have a ridiculous habit of repeating over and over again. We do the same mistakes again and again; the same waves hit our bodies on the sharp rocks of fate. And this vicious circle must be broken in order to finally find happiness. The film shows not only the life of the individual woman, but also the family values. Being all together, it is easier to handle with men who always are big kids, to restrain unruly tears, and once again collect the life fragments. Women continue to live, even if the burden of the past does not want to let them go, in order to re-try the taste of happiness.
In the film Volver, Almodovar asks very important questions for all women: what should I do if the daughter confesses that his father molested her? What to do if it depends only on you whether your baby has a dinner or not? What does a woman feel after knowing her diagnosis – cancer? How to survive in a small town and do not fall to the bottom? How to forgive people? How to start a new life? It is a wonderful movie that leaves a pleasant aftertaste because it teaches us to overcome difficulties and to appreciate the precious moments spent near parents.