August 17th, 2009
Last night I wanted to see a movie but couldn’t chose one from the ones showing at the moment. Then I remembered I hadn’t seen the last Almodovar movie, Broken Embraces. Luckily it was still showing in a small theater in Saint Michel: le Saint André des Arts, famous for being highbrow and often mentionned in the Cahiers du Cinéma (it used to drive me crazy when I read about it but didn’t live in Paris yet: it seemed like everything interesting was happening there and of course I couldn’t go). The theater itself doesn’t look very good but is rather old and decaying. When I bought my ticket, water dropped on my head: I looked up and down and saw a bucket half filled with water that was leaking from the ceiling. Nice introduction.
Anyway I was in for a good movie. By the way what follows is kind of a spoiler.
Broken Embraces is “classical” Almodovar. A simple intrigue, but filled with passion and drama. Watching it made me distinguish some recurring themes and ideas in his movies:
- illnesses and accidents: Harry is blind from a car accident. Lena’s father dies of cancer at the beginning. Doctors and hospitals often appear. Just like in Talk To Her, where the hospital is part of the setting. And the car accident reminded me of All About My Mother. These twists of life lend his movies their melodramatic aspect. That’s where you see that Almodovar is clever, because they never look mawkish or “too much”. At worst you can think they are due to the Spanish exuberance inherited from the Movida.
- the opposition of blue and red: in Broken Embraces, it’s everywhere. Any details of the setting, clothes, accessories is an occasion to oppose these two colours. I don’t remember everything about the other Almodovar movies I saw apart from there being a lot of red (especially his actresses’ dresses). I had a look at some of his movie posters and you can find the blue/red opposition there too: just look at All About My Mother and Talk To Her.
Apart from that, the movie unfolds itself in a rather ordinary way. It is pleasant while you watch it but when you think about it afterwards you get the feeling that not much has happened between the beginning and the end of the movie. I was a bit disappointed by Penelope Cruz’s part. I’m used to Almodovar’s strong and combative women, but Lena is more or less just a pretty face (oh but what a pretty face! Just look at that fringe…). And you never really know what makes those two men go crazy about her, apart from her looks.
All in all, I had a good time. Like I said, it’s classical Almodovar, albeit not extraordinary.