Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Broken Embraces

Synopsis: An ageing film screenwriter/director looks back at the events leading up to a tragic episode in his life. There is catharsis and redemption in his close friends and collaborators.

***WARNING: Contains spoilers***

I really enjoyed this, as I have done other Almodovar films. It's his fourth collaboration with the divine Penelope Cruz and is one of his more sad, melodramatic works, rather than the farces of his earlier ouevre. There is the complicated love story, various vengeful characters, some Almodovar regulars and the bright, bright colours.

What I really liked about this film was the focus on a lost love and how important memories are. As the main character becomes blind, we can take this as a symbol of how, as his love dies, so does his need to see the world.

After an introduction to the main characters world, we begin the complex storytelling of how he meets and falls in love with one of his leading ladies (Cruz). We see how her attempts to leave her jealous husband end in danger and injury (to both her physical body and to his film).

The scenes in Lanzarote, to which the couple have escaped, illustrate how we could all be perfectly in love if only we could escape those around us and be free. There is a very telling scene in which the couple watch Rossellini's Viaggio in Italia. This film within the film focuses on a couple's travel to Pompeii and the memories of old love affairs and romances. Almodovar a true film lover, and in this film - about a film director and actors, he uses other films to underscore his themes.

Another beautiful scene which uses film wonderfully is toward the end. We see the director (Lluis Homar) 'watching' the video of him and his lover in their final moments together, shot from a car travelling behind theirs. He asks that his companion slow down the projection and as Cruz and Homar melt into slow-mo, he touches and strokes the TV screen to 'see' his lost love one more time. It is a fabulous moment, Almodovar is so aware of the importance of speed and rhythm in film and at moments like these Broken Embraces could be seen as a film essay companion to Laura Mulvey's book Death 24 x a second.

See also: 24 hour Psycho, Viaggio in Italia,

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