Volver (encore)

In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, Volver’s talky plot and broad-stroke themes – sex, death, family, small-town superstition – might come off as kitsch. But Almodóvar’s framing and image balance sensibilities, his splashes of color and scope of space, lead up to one of the most eminently visually watchable movies of the decade. Penelope Cruz (at the height of her powers) leads a cast of working women in Madrid and the small-town La Mancha region through a tale of spectres, patricide, film crew soirees, and female relationships. If De Palma took the Hitchcockian aesthetic to the next logical level of formalist violence, then by contrast, Almodóvar’s take on the master is having fun with it all, from the canted camera angles to an absurdist dead body disposal. It’s also one of the most purely fun movies of its time, a reminder disappearing small-scale, yet ambitious cinema.

Dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 2006, 35mm, 121 min.

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