Friday, November 24, 2006
VOLVER - Hot mama Penelope Cruz and Almodovar magic
After the hot buzz of Volver which we attended at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, Volver returns albeit currently in limited engagement at just the Varsity so far. Volver is Penelope Cruz's third movie with her favourite director and mentor[since she was 13 and saw Almovodar's Tie Me Up Tie Me Down] following Live Flesh and All About My Mother. Somehow now she is playing an overworked mother in Volver!
Almodovar returns after Bad Education with Volver - a continually unfolding mystery. Overly haunting and lyrically rhythmic music abounds that come out of the likes of a 1950s Douglas Sirk melodrama. Volver plays as a comedy about family values underscored with darkness and warmth. Very much a movie about sisters doing it for themselves, it's amazing how Almodovar knows the women's ways, of women's guile, beguile and wiles.
Spanning the relationship from mother to daughter to her daughter, these generations of women and daughter deal with life on their own terms - without a dominant man around - it's like the Eurythmics song Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.
Raimunda [ Penelope Cruz ] and her sister Soledad [ or Sole for short - rhymes with ole ! ] lose their parents at an early age in a fire - and now Raimunda's husband Paco has left the family to look for work or so she claims. So the already overworked Raimunda is left alone to raise her daughter Paula.
La Mancha is a poor dusty windy town with more fires and insanity per capita - and the East wind drives everyone crazy literally. As Volver opens the women are going through the customary cleaning of the graves of their loved ones on a very windy day. The women have a close kinship with each other - Raimunda, her daughter and Sole go to visit their their aunt at her home - she is ailing and wobbly yet she has wafers and sweets ready for them to eat and take with them back to their homes in Madrid. It is rumoured in the superstitious village that the ghost of Raimunda's mother has been seen and even Soledad runs in fright when she sees the ghost.
Back in Madrid the overworked Penelope has to do with the daily duties at the hospital - cooking, laundry, mopping floors while also dealing with the news her husband has been fired which gets on her nerves. "We are a poor family and we will live like a poor family!" she shouts at her daughter who is asking for more phone credit.
Each of the women in Volver each deal with how to live without a man in her life - Raimunda is always trying to stay one step ahead as she nimbly deals with all the situtations piling upon her: the "missing" husband who has gone away because he has found a job or left after a huge fight between them, forced to miss the funeral of her suddenly departed Aunt while scrambling to earn money to live and cater for a film company in the area, helping her neighbour sell a restaurant that she takes over herself, not to mention the Trouble With Harry type situation situation she is in and on top of everything Raimunda has been plied with her friend's dying request to find out if her mother is still alive.
While the camaraderie between the women is strong, and how they deal with their plight is heart tugging and comedic, the sweeping arc is of sadness, loss and much darkness. "We deal with our dirty laundry ourselves," it is vowed.
Of course it’s a comedy about family underscored with darkness and warmth. Very much a movie about sisters doing it for themselves, it's amazing how Almodovar knows the ways of women's guile and wiles.
Which begs the question that we dare ask of Almovodar: What are the dirty little secrets of Volver? You will not be prepared for the answers.
Our observations from Day 3 of 06 TIFF:
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 9, 2006
It was just one of those perfect days at 06 TIFF
9:30 A.M. !
Pedro's back! Volver is an Almodovar ghost story – dirty secrets should be handled on the inside. Hot Penelope Cruz is amply present and her mind is always thinking on the fly as she has to cope with the tragedies that have befallen. Of course it’s a comedy about family underscored with darkness and warmth. Very much a movie about sisters doing it for themselves, it's amazing how Almodovar knows the ways of women's guile and wiles.