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Broken Embraces (2009)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 146
Fresh: 119 | Rotten: 27

Pedro Almodovar's fourth film with Penélope Cruz isn't his finest work, but he brings his signature visual brilliance to this noirish tale, and the cast turns in some first-class performances.


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 3

Pedro Almodovar's fourth film with Penélope Cruz isn't his finest work, but he brings his signature visual brilliance to this noirish tale, and the cast turns in some first-class performances.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 20,057

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Movie Info

A follow-up to Spanish enfant terrible Pedro Almodóvar's 2006 arthouse sensation Volver, Los Abrazos Rotos finds the filmmaker re-teaming with actress Penélope Cruz and working on a canvas much broader than those of his previous outings, in terms of genres covered, narrative scope, and duration. Lluís Homar stars as the former Mateo Blanco, a screenwriter and ex-director who changed his name to Harry Caine after losing his sight in an automobile accident. A past scandal suddenly resurfaces when

Mar 16, 2010


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All Critics (146) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (119) | Rotten (27) | DVD (2)

While it may not be Almodóvar's greatest work, it still stands well above most other films in terms of intrigue, intelligence and innovation.

January 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This melancholy romance is the first Almodovar feature I've ever really liked, an expertly fashioned melodrama that steers mercifully clear of his usual puckishness and star-mongering.

January 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stylish and sly, an engaging exercise that gives us less than meets the eye.

January 7, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One failing in the film is how boring it is to watch Cruz pretend to be a bad actress. The comic movie within a movie, which borrows from Women on the Verge, isn't funny.

January 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It all adds up to an entertaining mash of suspense and melodrama.

December 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As long as Almodovar keeps investing such thought and energy in his work, he can play with whatever themes he desires.

December 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Almodóvar and Cruz fail to engage this time around.

December 31, 2010 Full Review Source:

Continues the director's streak of reliably elegant, original works, making the case, once again, that there are few other European directors working today who can match his particular blend of thought-provoking, artful, yet wholly accessible cinema.

July 4, 2010 Full Review Source: DCist

Um dos piores trabalhos de Almodóvar, aqui totalmente entregue ŕ auto-indulgęncia, ao melodrama barato e ŕs caricaturas (o que năo é novidade), mas sem a sensibilidade costumeira que normalmente contrabalança seus excessos.

June 19, 2010
Cinema em Cena

Pedro Almodovar reteams with Penelope Cruz, and you have your review right there.

May 10, 2010 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

I must be completely dazzled by Pedro Almodóvar's current skills as a filmmaker because I really enjoyed Broken Embraces even though I had several reasons not to.

March 24, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

The broken field running of the film's time line requires each viewer to reassemble the story in his head.

March 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

While the writing isn't as sharp or as funny as it is in Almodovar's best movies, so be it--it's a hell of a lot sharper and more interesting than most of the mass-produced movies coming out of Hollywood.

February 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

This meandering melodrama is too fractured, too soap opera-ish and is just too odd ... even by the Oscar-winning, Spanish filmmaker's usual standards.

February 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Above all, "Broken Embraces" shows how deeply Almodóvar is in love with movies, not just as things to be watched and enjoyed, but to be felt deep in the bones.

February 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Gives us few reasons not to stay to the ending, but the ultimate revelation of Blanco's pain ... disappoints.

January 31, 2010

A very worthy close-out for his remarkable output of the last decade.

January 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A cliche-ridden exercise that never exhibits any real heart and focuses on characters who never come alive, it also never comes close to living up to the promise of the names in the credits.

January 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune | Comment (1)

In Almodóvar, the past is reckoned by characters of the present, a layering over which we revel.

January 16, 2010 Full Review Source: IdentityTheory

Almodovar dives into this knotty, plotty mess the only way he can - with utter abandon and what might be best described as a kind of artful recklessness.

January 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The end result is less than the sum of its parts, a smoke 'n' mirrors melodrama that peters out just when it should be revving into high gear.

January 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

The unbeatable Oscar-winning combination of legendary Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar and international superstar beauty Penelope Cruz makes this lavishly mounted melodrama a cinematic gem.

January 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

Sex, cinema and fate -- three of Pedro Almodovar's favorite subjects -- are lovingly examined in his Broken Embraces.

January 15, 2010
Kansas City Star

By this point, the phrase 'Un Film de Almodovar' connotes a genre unto itself, as identifiable by its themes, character types and visual trademarks as a Western, Hammer horror movie or vintage screwball comedy.

January 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

A rich, tangled and layered work whose lurid, sensual style -- and seething and ebbing score by Alberto Iglesias -- is like lava cooling upon the volcano below.

January 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Audience Reviews for Broken Embraces

Slow to start, but a powerful finish. Incredible storytelling, subtle direction, and absorbing acting, easy choice if you're in the mood for Artistic+Foreign.

Looking forward to watching Volver...
September 23, 2012

Super Reviewer

Standard fare for Almodovar. And I dont mean that in a negative way. This man coasting is still leaps and bounds more fascinating than the pet projects of many directors.
It is hyper-sexual, highly-stylized, and has melodrama oozing out of every pore. The production is regal and elegant, with brilliant colors bursting on screen while characters do their best to control the mess that their elicit passions have made.
While it may not carry the same weight as Talk to Her or All About My Mother, it is an entertaining story told richly by one of the world's premiere filmmakers.
April 6, 2012
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

The scope of human suffering and joy is fervently wide in Almodovar's take on love, lust, and relationships in his first broad genre film. The film showcases a beatific premise of following the love affair of two ill fated star crossed lovers, thrown together in the strangest of circumstances, beating back barriers put up by a powerful ex-lover. The story isn't very complex or hard to follow by any means, but there is a lot of explanation and back-story included, a series of confessional conversations between the intertwining characters. Each of the characters in this film are intricately developed, none without some study of their personality, or what has lead them to their current position. The film spans sixteen years in total, encompassing a painful journey for aspiring actress and former secretary Lena (Cruz) now embroiled in a purely profit escapade with financier Martel (Gomez) and an affair with screenwriter and director Mateo (Homar). Cruz is obviously Almodovar's muse, their second collaboration after Volver. He showcases the sterling beauty with many shots of her smiling, head tilted, vulnerable to the point of a newborn fawn. Without Cruz, the sweetness of the film would have been drained for a tenser thriller between their love and the oppositional Ernesto. It's shot beautifully, the subject matter is plain but well executed, and the acting is truly wonderful. I'd say one of Almodovar's best films to date.
August 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

Upon the death of a millionaire, a blind writer recalls his affair with the dead man's wife.
Typical of Almodovar, this film features lush scenery, colorfully disparate characters, and Penelope Cruz giving a very good performance. It is also superbly structured; the mystery isn't revealed until the second act, and the reveal is natural, not contrived, organic.
I would have liked to have seen the woman who opens the film fit somewhere in the flashback. Also, I don't think the film that is central to the past action reveals much about the characters, and it certainly shouldn't have been used as the climax.
But these are minor issues in an otherwise very strong drama. Overall, this is the best Almodovar film I've seen, and after this film, in which all the stylistic signatures I've seen in his other work come together, I can see why he is an acclaimed director.
July 28, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Mateo y Harry Caine: It must be a very thick cream, like armor, to protect them [vampires] all day.
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
    1. Chon: I'm very interested in sex as a social matter.
    – Submitted by Emily C (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • Zerrissene Umarmungen (DE)
  • Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos) (UK)
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