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Note: "Volver" is Spanish for "return".

Raiumunda's (a wonderful Penelope Cruz) mother (Carmen Maura, utterly amazing!) returns after years of being though dead to reconnect with her two daughters.

Of course, her daughters are all messed up with Penelope accidentally killing her abusive husband (and stuffing him in a restaurant freezer), and her sister a total doormat.

Add the complication of the mother not wanting Raimunda to know she's alive (instead several family members thinks she's a ghost!), and a deep dark secret from their past. How did her mother survive the fire? And if she's alive, who was buried with the father?

What I Thought

Spanish Subtitle Alert! This movie is in Spanish with English subtitles. And it always helps if you're fluent to enjoy the movie. Especially the wonderful Spanish swearing. Why isn't English so inventive?

Almodovar Alert! This movie is by crazy Pedro Almodovar (Bad Education, Talk To Her, All About My Mother). His movies are seriously messed up (in a GOOD way!). And yes, this movie has a (typical Almodovar) twist at its end too.

On the one hand, nothing much happens in this movie except an eventual family reunion. Dull, right?

On the other hand, there's this very rich feeling you get when watching, making the movie feel more complex and emotional than it is at first glance. Maybe that's what I'm sensing here, that the actresses each show in subtle ways that there's a history here, a certain weight on their shoulders.

For some reason, you also feel this sense of doom, a hallmark of an Almodovar movie. Not that anything actually happens, but each scene builds up a strong sense of foreboding. You think at any moment someone central is going to end up in jail, or killed, or really be a ghost or something. A part of me really did feel anxious throughout the movie.

Also, the BEAUTIFUL Spanish architecture is one of the stars of this movie, and almost outshines the fantastic cast.

So anyway, just like the movie, I don't have a big splashy finale for my review. It's just an amazingly solid and well-written movie with amazing Spanish actresses. Long live Almodovar.

Note: Penelope Cruz was nominated for an Academy Award for this movie and should have won.


All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.