Broken Embraces (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Broken Embraces (2009)



Critic Consensus: 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.

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 the news arrives that the producer of one of Harry's old movies ("Girls and Suitcases"), a corrupt stockbroker named Ernesto Martel (José Luis Gómez), has died. For mysterious reasons, this makes Harry's ex-production manager Judit (Blanca Portillo) nervous; then Ernesto's son, Ray X (Rubén Ochandiano), turns up and asks Harry to help him write a vindictive script to get back at his vile father. The film subsequently flashes back to the early '90s, when Martel became involved with his secretary, Lena (Cruz), but Mateo also began to develop feelings for her, and auditioned her for "Girls and Suitcases." In response to Mateo's interest in Lena (and her burgeoning interest in him), the jealous Martel commissioned Ray to make a documentary about the making of "Girls and Suitcases" as an excuse to spy on the director and star. This enabled him to watch Mateo spiriting off with Lena right under his nose, and set the stage for the wily producer's elaborate revenge against Mateo. As this synopsis suggests, Almodóvar uses a tricky structure laden with flashbacks to both comment on and explain the events of the present; he also interweaves a noirish sensibility throughout the picture that marks something of a first for this director. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovimore
Rating: R (for sexual content, language and some drug material)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Pedro Almodóvar
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 16, 2010
Box Office: $4.9M
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


José Luis Gómez
as Ernesto Martel
Ángela Molina
as Madre de Lena
Kiti Manver
as Madame Mylene
Lola Dueńas
as Lectora de Labios
Lluis Homar
as Harry Caine/Mateo Bl...
Kira Miró
as Modelo
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Broken Embraces

Critic Reviews for Broken Embraces

All Critics (147) | Top Critics (38)

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

Full Review… | January 8, 2010
Detroit News
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 8, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The entire third act is anticlimactic and forgettable, and one has to wonder why Mr. Almodóvar has to let his penchant for melodrama ruin a well executed noir.

Full Review… | October 7, 2015
Critic's Notebook

Though the film offers nothing new for the eyes, its wordiness ultimately acts as a complement rather than a drawback to Almodóvar's masterful storytelling.

Full Review… | September 24, 2014
Film Comment Magazine

Almodóvar and Cruz fail to engage this time around.

Full Review… | December 31, 2010

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.

Full Review… | July 4, 2010

Audience Reviews for Broken Embraces

A pretentious soap-opera/melodrama, ridiculously self-aggrandizing, that seems like an empty exercise to explore the beauty of Almodóvar's muse Penélope Cruz with his lustful camera - and the unwelcome self-reference to one of his classic films is not only unfunny but a complete embarrassment.

Carlos Magalhăes

Super Reviewer

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...

Jason Robinson

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.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Broken Embraces Quotes

– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Emily C (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Broken Embraces on our Movie forum!