Pedro Alomodóvar made this misfired, rambling comedy about a romance novelist (Marisa Paredes) whose crumbling marriage has left her depressed and unable to work. At a low point, she writes a scathing indictment of her own... more » books (which are penned under another name), with no one realizing critic and author are one and the same. Almodóvar (Law of Desire) has the start of a great idea here, and for once, he's direct about his sympathy for a character. But nothing else about The Flower of My Secret is so clear. Despite its unusual allegiance to the straightforward "women's films" of the 1950s, this movie blows it by becoming needlessly complicated over extraneous junk, forcing one to grope in the dark for Almodóvar's point. --Tom Keogh« less
Quiet restrained Almodovar with love to Spanish Culture
Tsila Sofer Elguez | Haifa, Israel | 07/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A quiet restrained Almodovar movie, rich with symbols and style (artistic shots made through different patterns - mirrors, straw chair patterns, etc.). This movie is also a tribute to the Spanish culture - dance, food and various elements of the folklore which appear in lace making, landscape and portrayal of "country people".
This is the story of Leo (Marisa Paredes) who is a writer. Leo writes her stories under a pseudonym as she is not proud of the sugary love stories she writes. This "real/unreal love" is one of the main themes and conflicts of the movie. Leo, under again another pseudonym attacks her own love stories while Angel, her new boss and friend writes in favor of the sugary author. Should we believe the dramatic love story which always comes with a happy ending but is somewhat untrue or should we write / or dream about everyday truthful life where love, like other achievements comes after hard work?
In the opening scene Leo has trouble getting her boots off - the boots are a present from her husband and she wears them although they are so tight she cannot breath. In what is later understood as a very symbolic act she tries to take the boots off in various ways but succeeds only after her friend Betty manages to help her. Betty works in the transplant section of the hospital (transplants and the detailed process of explaining the death of a dear one to his relatives also appear in Almodovar "all about my mother" and Almodovar is definitely doing a great service to this matter). Leo drinks a lot. She is very miserable and misses her husband who is in the army. Leo knows they are having problems but it seems that the viewer is in a better position to understand the nature of their relationship. Leo is both aware of problems yet blind to several facts that are presented to her face (blindness is another motive - as Leo's mother who was brought from the country to live with Leo's sister in the city is half blind, yet there are several things she can "see" very well). When Leo finally understands the truth - she falls apart and is aided back to life by her family and new friend.
This is first of all a love story, but more then that this is a story of loyalty vs. infidelity (on the one hand we have Blanka, Leo's faithful maid and on the other side her close friend), city vs. country, and once and again the question of truth - in relationships, in writing, and maybe in art in general (through the story of Blanka and her son dance group).
Marisa Parades is convincing and is aided by a lovely group of actors of which I would like to mention Leo's sister, Rossy de Palma whose face is so memorable you cannot forget. This actress has also participated in Almodovar movie "Kika" and makes a strong impression."
Lovely and Touching . . .
Eric Wahl | Bozeman, MT, USA | 04/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
". . . and maybe those aren't words fans normally associate with Almodovar, at least when not linked to words like "junky," "transvestite," or "porn star." I disagree with the reviewer who termed this a misfire--it's simply a more thoughtful film by this usually over-the-top director. Visually, one of his most arresting films, Almodovar chooses to focus this time on the distance between true love and idealized love as seen in romance novels and how they sometimes intersect in surprising ways. Marissa Paredes shows stunning range as the main character--at times both critically stung and deeply needy and yet passionate and cocky . . . boy, do you root for her. And the scene in which she is literally pushed by a mob of protesters into the arms of the man she could be truly happy with is one of the best in movies. NOT a disappointment at all."
My favorite Almodóvar
Sylvia Maria Valls | Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico, Old Mex. | 08/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with what the second reviewer says about this sensitive, passionate, lyrical portrayal of a courageous, strong, disciplined woman whose nemesis, as always, results from the heart. The betrayals she suffers are as profound as her love is and Marisa Paredes comes through as one of the half a dozen or so most important film actresses of the decade. One particular scene, the mother returning to her native village, provides one of the most exquisite moments in film: the background text and the sight and the voice becoming a separate moment of intense recollection and joy. Nothing misfired about this genuine masterpiece. ''Mamadoc'' s.marie"
Another Aspect of Almodóvar's Talent, Deeply Impressive on
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some viewers have placed this exciting film 'La Flor de mi secreto' into the 'not up to standard' Pedro Almodóvar films, a classification this viewer finds difficult to understand. Filmed in the luxuriously colorful palette (especially the repeated use of the color red in every scene) that has become his trademark, set with a musical score that includes Spanish song and guitar and flamenco, and introducing a wildly disparate group of over-the-top women played by a bevy of fine actresses - it all seems echt Almodóvar to me. No, there is not the outrageous side of gender bending that suffuses many of his more popular films, but there is a fine story that resonates throughout this remarkable movie that makes it very much worth the attention of lovers of Spanish cinema.
The film opens during the credits on a woman being informed that her 16-year old son is brain dead as a result of a motorcycle accident and two young doctors (including the irrepressible young Jordi Molla) are trying to convince her to allow the respirator to be disconnected and the boy's organs harvested for donor transplant. Sad, tense though this opening is we discover soon enough that the trio are actors making a demo film for medical personnel to learn to deal with such possible family encounters! Point: what appears to be a tragedy becomes a 'farcical depiction' guided by a seminar leader Betty (Carmen Elías). Flash into a different scene and we me Leo (the immensely talented Almodóvar favorite Marisa Paredes), depressed to the extreme over the failure of her marriage to her beloved Paco (Imanol Arias), a NATO 'soldier' who took assignments as far from Leo as possible. Now Leo continues to write her trashy novels she has never had published while clinging to the Paco (she wears his clothes, currently his boots) she cannot recover. Noting that the boots are too tight she leaves her typewriter to flee into the streets to find someone to remove the painful boots and after frustrating encounters with less than helpful people, she turns to her best friend Betty (yes, at a seminar!) who successfully removes the shoes. It seems Paco had an affair with Betty, a fact that further flails at Leo's pain. Betty assuages her by introducing her to a literary editor Ángel (Juan Echanove) who asks Leo to come on staff as a critic - most particularly to review the 'example manuscript' Leo has presented him in applying for the job. The reaction is predictable and Leo is at odds with how to continue her life.
Along the way of the story Leo gets advice from her hilarious mother and sister (Chus Lampreave and Rossy De Palma in typical Almodóvar creations!) and from her maid Blanca (Manuela Vargas) and Blanca's son Antonio (Joaquín Cortés) who perform Spanish ballet as a side line (and incredibly well, too - with some wonderful flamencoesque moments of artistic relief). Coincidences happen that allow Leo to ultimately catch a new perspective on her life without Paco - in a most unexpected way.
So what is not to love about this Almodóvar opus? For this viewer, absolutely nothing. It is a delight from beginning to end and deserves reconsideration in placement in the gifted director's echelon of works. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, September 06
One of Almodovar's best
Alex Morales | New York, NY USA | 12/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is my second favorite Almodovar film, falling between Law of Desire and Dark Habits. It tells the story of a romance writer who's own real-life romance is falling apart. She is torn between the image of herself as tragic victim and as perpetuator of rosy love stories. This is a very subtle film by Almodovar, but I've seen it four times now and it yields more beauty with each viewing. Central to my enjoyment of the film is Marisa Paredes. She is a grand actress in the old Hollywood tradition (check her out in Almodovar's fine new film, All About My Mother). She runs the gamut of every possible emotion and creates a character that is memorable and moving. Her performance rivals those of Julietta Serrano in Dark Habits and Carmen Maura in Law of Desire. Almodovar favorites Rossy de Palma and Chuz Lamprave make memorable cameos in this movie. This is a must see film!"