Single mother Manuela (Cecilia Roth) lives with her only son Esteban as she works as organ transplant co-ordinator at the hospital. Her son believes his father is dead, but when a tragedy occurs, Manuela heads from Madrid to Barcelona in search of the boy’s father, where she ends up caring for a new brood, made up of Penelope Cruz’s demure nun, Antonia San Juan’s seasoned prostitute and Marisa Paredes’ legendary gay stage actress. The performances are all exquisite from a mostly female cast, and the plot is suitably diverse enough to remain unpredictable throughout, from the events to the tone of the picture, and a vibrant colour scheme adds to the sensual feel.
Following Pedro Almodovar’s usual routine of showing women discovering unknown strengths when put under extreme situations, Volver sees two sisters, Lola Duenas and Penelope Cruz, finding new leases on life after a number of unexpected deaths to people close to them.
The film is witty and intelligent, focusing largely on conversations rather than action, and showing that good things can happen if you believe and out your mind to them, and that tragedy can lead to becoming closer to others and a better person in yourself, but my main problem with the film – other than unsuccessfully attempting to make Cruz look frumpy with a prosthetic posterior rumoured to be the same one Dustin Hoffman wore in Tootsie– is that there are certain supernatural elements that take you out of the film completely, as the rest seems so grounded in a reality that is only a little exaggerated, and even then only in the amount of cheeks kissed on a daily basis.
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