Leah G. (Leahbelle) from NIPOMO, CA Reviewed on 5/11/2012...
This was a great movie -- something out of the loop of movies you usually see.
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A World Without Men
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 11/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a great scene in Pedro Almodovar's latest, "Volver" that encapsulates all that this wonderful, resonant movie is about: Raimunda (a sexy, earthy Penelope Cruz who has never been better on screen) sings a gypsy/flamenco style song, having not sang in public for many years but in possession of a gorgeous singing voice, while her mother Irene (the legendary Carmen Maura), thought to be dead , discretely listens from afar. Almodovar's camera cuts between mother and daughter, both totally committed emotionally to the scene, both recalling their former lives together, estranged for years but still possessing that particular brand of love that exists only between a Mother and her daughter, both longing for lives without trials and tribulations and fear, lives without problems, without cares. "Volver" (which means to return, to come back) is nothing if not about returning to the innocence of youth: to a time when Love abounded and came without a price and without consequences. But "Volver" is also about second chances, re-tooling you life albeit, Almodovar-style which always involves some manner of the strange, the violent sometimes and the weird. This line towards re-tooling/re-imagining your life is not a straight one by any means but a zigzagged one going from "a" to "g" more often than from "a" to "b." In "Volver" we have the extraordinary character of Raimunda played to the hilt by Penelope Cruz who has always been better in her native Spanish than she's ever been in her English films. Raimunda is strong, decisive, hard-working, married to a lout, a devoted mother and sister of Soledad (Lola Duenas) with whom she shares a strong bond now that their parents are dead. "Volver" is a film almost totally without men except Paco, Raimunda's husband and Paula's (Raimunda's daughter)father who leaves the film early on and as such it reminds me of the Neo-Realist film classics of the WW2 era, "Open City" and the Sophia Loren starring "Two Women." But in this world without men that is "Volver" nothing seems amiss because the world that Almodovar has created is rich with well defined woman's roles: compassionately written and more importantly profoundly and deeply executed by the ensemble of actors that Almodovar has assembled: Cruz, Maura, Duenas and Blanca Portillo as Angelina. Once again with "Volver," Almodovar has returned to the world of women alone and it is a film primarily about but definitely not only for women: their power over us, their weaknesses, their hopes, their desires. But "Volver" also shows us that mysterious inner core that all women possess which gives them an edge, a wisdom that men don't have. Call it maturity, call it a security, call it a special strength. You can even call it "feminine intuition." But, call it what you like, it's there, only women have it and lucky man, Pedro Almodovar is on a first name basis with it. "
A Jewel of a Film!
JoeyD | los gatos, ca | 04/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A truly beautiful film! I was mesmerized throughout by the great writing, directing, cinematography, and above all the outstanding performances of all the wonderful actresses. One of the legendary grand dames of Spanish cinema Carmen Maura (the Judy Dench of Spain) gives a brilliant performance in a supporting role as Irene, the tortured matriarch trying to reconcile with her long, lost daughters. Penelope Cruz gives a performance that in almost any other year would have reaped her not only the Academy Award for Best Actress, but every other award known to man-kind as well (however, having seen the movie "The Queen" it was no doubt Helen Mirren's year). I have never seen Ms. Cruz even come close to being as great as she is in this fine film. She is not only breathtakingly beautiful as our main heroine Raimunda (ala Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani) but she seems to glide across the screen with such balletic grace and effortlessness that you can't take your eyes off of her for a second. The scenes between her and Maura in particular are simply sublime beyond words. The other three main actresses also give outstanding performances in supporting roles - Yohana Cobo (Paula, Raimunda's teenage daughter), Blanca Portillo (Agustina), and in particular Lola Duenas (Sole, Raimunda's loyal and lonely younger sister).
This is not a 'chick flick'. This is not one of those boring, esoteric, foreign films that you need to be of European descent to truly understand and appreciate. Pedro Almodar truly weaves together an absolutely wonderful story with a great message as well. These women exude such strength and inner beauty that it is almost impossible to not empathize with each one of them. I was pleasantly suprised when I walked out of the movie theatre and I am planning on purchasing this DVD soon. Also, anyone who has been to Spain and fell in love with the people and culture (as I did) will truly love this film! It is such an enchanting, charming land full of benevolent and passionate souls.
It is definitely a five star movie in my opinion and one of the finest films of it's kind that I have seen in years."
The Return of Almodovar!
Daryl B | Nashville, Tennessee United States | 02/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've never been a big fan of Penlope Cruz but this film, I think, has changed that! I have been, however, a fan of Pedro Almodovar for 20 years and he gives us another strong tale centered around a group of women that involves murder, incest, ghosts and much more!
Thankfully, we see the wonderful Carmen Maura reunited with her director of "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown". She really shows her talent as an actress as the mother of Raimunda (Cruz) and Sole (Lola Duenas).
The story is set around to Raimunda and Sole, two sisters who lost their parents in a fire about four years earlier. Raimunda is married to a crude drunk and Sole is a lonely young woman separated from her husband. After a tragic event occurs for Raimunda and her daughter, Paula (Yohana Cobo), Raimunda is forced to keep a secret to protect her daughter and herself. The one thing that bonds all the women is the secrets they keep. Irene (Maura), their mother, has a secret that could give the terminally ill Agustina (Blanca Portillo), who is a childhood friend of the sisters, an answer to the whereabouts of her absent mother.
The actresses in this film do AMAZING work. The story centers around Penelope Cruz who deserves the Oscar nomination she received. Carmen Maura, as usual, does a great job and another stand out is Blanca Portillo as the long suffering and loyal friend to the sisters.
If I have one criticism about the film, it just seem to end so abruptly. Other than that, Almodovar gives us another film about women that is well worth the price of your ticket as well as an addition to your dvd library. Highly recommended."
The Reason Why the Spanish Cinema is So Great!
Thor | Netherlands | 09/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pedro Almodóvar, the king of Spanish cinema is back with Volver, a film with a lot of humor, but also the finest drama. The story, written by Almodóvar himself, is original and has great twists and surprises for you to enjoy.
The story in short without any spoilers: Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) is a young mother and together with her sister Sole (played by Lola Dueñas) who has an illegal barbershop, they always clean their mother and father's grave, who have passed away long ago. They both have their own problems, and Raimunda experienceses a big one together with her daughter Paula (played by Yohana Cobo),which I'm not gonna tell, you'll see. But then, suddenly, the mother (played by Carmen Maura) returns from her grave as a spirit, because she has some unfinished business to complete before she can rest in peace. So with their mother walking around, some big problems here, and some little problems there, Volver is a delighted comedy and drama at the same time that will entertain you endlessly!
Penélope Cruz is absolutely fantastic in this film. The problem with her acting in Hollywood is that she can never really show that she can really act because of the language that doesn't come out as fluently as Spanish (Not that she is terrible when she acts in English, she is a wonderfull actress, but still, you don't feel like it is her 100% because of the language barriar). Now, in her own language, Penélope shows she can really act and steals the show. She really gave me goosbumps in some of her scenes because she can act emotionally very realisticly which absolutely grabbed me. Expect acting from the highest level! The rest of the cast is also fantastic and they all act great. It is an absolute star cast where nobody is out of place or not good: maqnificent job!
Even though the film is completely spoken in Spanish, you'll have no problem getting into this film. When the first scene appeared on the screen, I was so into it, that I was not even noticing that I was still reading the subtitles. And thats the power of the Spanish cinema. Volver shows how great Spanish movies can be. It is a fantastic film that will make you laugh, cry and entertain you till the very end.
I don't know how it will go with you, but after seeying this film in the cinema, I can offically say that I am sold to the Spanish cinema: Mucho Gracias! So I will probally Volver (return) to the cinema for more Spanish delight in the future!
Enjoy and Let yourself be grabbed by the story, the emotion, the comedy and the acting: entertainment from the highest sort. So go and see this, cause it will be in your mind for some time!"
Volver y Volver y Volver
T. Rosa | The Ballot State, Florida United States | 02/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have never doubted the acting ability of Penelope Cruz. In fact, I have been a fan for quite some time. This, however, must be her best performance to date. She takes you on an emotional ride that is pleasant and exhausting all at the same time and the kick is you don't want the ride to end. It won't matter if you are a male or female...you will fall in love with this portrait and with Penelope Cruz.
Es que la mujer es una maravilla, la cual no hemos vistos en mucho tiempo! Ole! Y Brava!
The entire cast brings a believable life to their characters and you feel them through every scene and miss them when they are not present. Carmen Maura is sheer bliss to watch on the screen.
Almodovar is his usual genius self. Every frame of the film is a painting. He cannot help himself because he is a true artist. I love this story and all of its odd turns. There is something wonderfully sexy about the juxtoposition of food, sexuality and violence that when put together brings a sensation of pleasure you don't often get to experience in American cinema. As a Spaniard by birth, I am proud of this film...as an American I am grateful that these films are making it more into the mainstream.