Volver (2005)

One of Pedro Almodóvar’s most consummate features, Volver sees the director reunited with old collaborators in a tale about coming to terms with the past.

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“Volver includes a brace of fart jokes, pointing up the moral that women are happier with their bodily functions than men. It’s a tenuous proposition, but not unexpected from a director whose acclaim greatly depends on his penchant for sisterly idealisation.”
Peter Matthews, Sight & Sound, 2006

Pedro Almodóvar has suggested that his films can be divided into ‘male’ or ‘female’ stories – the former dealing predominantly with desire and revenge, the latter with reconciliation and perseverance. Volver is one of the supreme instances of the latter, a beautiful tale of mothers and daughters, family secrets, storytelling and forgiveness.

Rooted in the filmmaker’s own homeland of La Mancha, the film stars Penélope Cruz as a city girl returning home for a funeral, and former Almodóvar mainstay Carmen Maura as her mother, reappearing long after her apparent death. Many other excellent actors round out the almost exclusively female company. Fusing the hysterical and the mundane with compassion, wit and grace, Volver combines tragedy and farce to the benefit of both.

Maura’s character recalls her role in Almodóvar’s What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984). Another reference point – Visconti’s Bellissima (1952), starring Anna Magnani – is glimpsed on a TV set.

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