Volver Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2010
This film is very morbid but easily whimsical as well. Utilizing the culturally significant magic realism, the film deals with the beautiful concept of resurrection through familiar ties, but also brings up a lot of unsavory subjects. Just to name a few there's murder, incest, rape, and arson. Even though the pit of your stomach roils in waves at times, much of this feels very loving. The film is about the language of death, and how it can be translated by the living. Aiding in this interpretation is the way the dead are celebrated and remembered at their graves by their loved ones. The very beginning of the film starts in a graveyard, and throughout the film the imagery of morbidity strengthens itself by showing ghosts, white haired poltergeists, and bold colors that look an awful lot like blood. The main characters are sisters Raimunda (Cruz) and Sole (Duenas), who have different interpretations of their parent's deaths so many years ago. While one only wants to remember and sympathize with her mother, the other wants to romanticize the past rather than feel the pain she has buried for so long. The characters keep the story lively as they speak about their pasts, about how they see themselves through their descendant's eyes, and how their futures could be brightened through their own fates. Raimunda finally takes charge of her life after being smothered by the influence of her husband Paco (de la Torre) and Sole finds herself leaving her hardened shell and embracing her mother for the first time. The links between the family are interesting, but it's the twist ending that really cements this as an impressive study of life among Spanish women. Besides the mood of the film, it's really an interesting visual experience, and that lends to its rural atmosphere and ability to show the lives of women who have lost it all, but gained so much more.
Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2013
Perhaps the best film I've ever seen with a intended "feminist agenda" (whatever that is, I don't know for sure) while never didactic, three generations of ladies endeavour mightily to overcome inbred male masochism to learn to enjoy life! Really enjoyable performances and story ... and Penolope Cruz radiant with high octane jungle juice. And I become yet another fan of Almodovar.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2012
Its a real domestic film that hits many issues like home, family, and life. Penelope Cruz's performance was fantastic as well as Almodvar's directing. A great watch!
Super Reviewer
January 18, 2012
A high rating mostly for the way in which this plot manages to turn and return so seamlessly, covering all kinds of ground: abuse, poverty, murder, cancer, familial bonds, lies, secrets, love and more. As always, Almodovar's characters are very rigid people, set in their ways and keeping their walls up, focused on one thing, and in Volver, Penelope Cruz plays one of the most impenetrable characters I've ever seen on film. She's so beautiful and she's struggling, so everyone would want to help her, but - without giving away too much of the plot! - she has a secret that she must do everything to keep. A bit slow in the early going, but the intensity continues to rise until the film's conclusion, which if you're not careful, will make your head spin. For me it all started to sink in as the credits rolled, and I found myself nodding, slowly coming around, saying "Yes, that was a good ending" each time I followed another thread to its end. A director whose work I will soon delve into deeply, no question. A very good film.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2012
Love the film. It is unique and one of the kind. It's that kind of film that will be hard to follow if you are doing something else while watching it, but you can be sure it's an amazing one. The script writing is fabulous - probably the best I have ever encounter. From the beginning until the end you will be able to see connections. Penelope Cruz is truly a gem when she's doing a Spanish film. And... the last but not least, you should be sure that Almodovar is an exceptional director and I look forward to see more of his films.
Super Reviewer
½ December 27, 2011
'Volver'. Almodovar's directorial flair shines through in this quirky, charming drama about three generations of women. Penelope Cruz enchants every second she's on screen.

The colour red is so distinct throughout this film, and Almodovar goes about capturing it in such a way that seems so unique, but I can't quite describe.
Super Reviewer
April 25, 2011
I was totally unprepared for how much I enjoyed this movie! Dimly aware of having received some positive word of mouth about it, I recorded Volver ages ago and set it aside for a rainy day. When they are not literally one and the same thing - which isn't often enough in the United Kingdom - a tedious Bank Holiday weekend is the next best thing to the proverbial rainy day, so I dug this out last night, more to pass the time than with any expectation of a marvellous evening's entertainment. Within five minutes, however, Pedro Almodóvar's gift for storytelling and the terrific performances of the female ensemble had me well and truly hooked. I particularly love how Almodóvar keeps the supernatural element going for as long as he possibly can, so that we don't know for certain whether we're watching realistic fantasy or fantastic realism until very near the end. Great fun!
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2009
How can you not love Penelope Cruz? Seriously, no matter what film she is in, she always plays a character that I would love to meet. Volver is definitely a great film, but I am also just as confident that it would not be nearly so great had Miss Cruz not been cast in it. The only other Almodovar film I have seen is Broken Embraces, and this feels like the stronger of the two. It isn't quite as over-the-top and is much easier to follow. It is a very poetic film, but I'm not sure what meaning there was. It really isn't serious either. I mean, there's really no way it could be anything else, but the tone is always very light and entertaining. I believe the dvd case hailed it as a 'celebration of women' which, well, sounds kind of raunchy. That is not the case at all, the film is really rather feministic. It shows that charm and resilience of these women, their loyalty and determination, and who could possibly do this better than Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar?
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2009
My mom saw this film before I did and called it "strange", but I don't see why, I liked it. This is my second Almodovar film and I've come to realize his films are a little non traditional, but at the end of the day, I still really like them. There's something meaty in the story that just sticks with you long after it's done and that is worthwhile.
My only qualm (and it is small) is that Penelope Cruz is FAR too gorgeous to be a maid. I mean, get real people...
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2010
This offbeat meditation on life, death, and family very much seemed Coenesque, which should be taken as a high compliment. Since this film is my first exposure, I cannot say how it fits in with the rest of his work, or how it ranks with them in terms of quality. Having to judge it on its own terms then, I say it's pretty good. Had I been able to get into it more, or know what to expect, my grade would have robably been higher or lower accrodingly. As it is though, I liked this, but didn't think it was super amazing or anything like that.

The look is wonderful, and the colors and sets just pop. The acting is terrific, and Cruz proves that when she isn't doing American movies, she truly is more than just a beauty to look at. The rest of the cast is also good. I really found the prostitute quite amusing. Tonally this was uneven, but it seemed to work out okay. I liked the quirky sly humor and the irony of things- more stuff that reinded me of Joel and Ethan Coen.

This is entertaining, but you have to be in the right mood to enjoy it. That, and it helps to be open minded about foreign films. So, given that, you should know if you might like this or not.
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2010
I re-watched this movie last night for the first time in several years and I almost forgot how excellent it is. It's one of Almaldovar's finest, and while, as Ed points out, it can be a bit predictable, the director presents the film with such touching sentimentality that the revelation is ancillary to the relationships between the women in the film. Beautifully shot, deeply touching, and well acted. Honestly, what more do you want from a film?
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2010
A masterpiece that almost anyone can appreciate. Pedro Almodovar's genius shines through in a sort of culmination of all his different styles and genres. The story is almost bizarre in the beginning, but rapidly begins to make more and more sense. Penelope Cruz delivers an amazing performance that I feel wasn't even publicized enough on release. She is a beautifully complex character that isn't just a good looking female lead. It's an untapped relationship that is explored throughout, it's not just a mother/daughter bonding session for an hour and a half. The cinematography and visual style is flat out amazing, it's so rich with detail and natural beauty. I think the comedy works so well in this because it isn't overplayed or beaten to death, it's subtle and appropriate.
Super Reviewer
February 4, 2010
An interesting look at the lives of three women in a town in Spain. One is in distress due to an unusual end to an utterly illfated marriage, an illegal hairdresser whose home/shop is the center of the various gossip amongst the tumultuous neighborhood, and a well meaning mother who's in love with a man who is by no means a saint. And somehow, the supernatural may even take part, or as so believed by a daughter who's life turns out to be much like her mother's which doesn't make anything easier for those bearing the burden of abuse in various forms.
This film can be a bit slow at times from my point of view, but is still a well executed piece of cinema with fine cinematography and cast led by Penelope Cruz. Penelope alone makes this film worth seeing if you appreciate her work as an actress, and it's nice to hear her speak in her native tongue as well.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2010
Smart but not preachy, funny but not over the top, genuine but not indulgent story about the potential power of female relationships - anchored by a powerhouse performance by Cruz.
Super Reviewer
½ January 5, 2008
Penelope Cruz is the most beautiful thing on Earth.
Super Reviewer
½ November 22, 2009
"Don't say that, Raimunda, or I'll start crying. And ghosts don't cry."

After her death, a mother returns to her home town in order to fix the situations she couldn't resolve during her life.

"Volver" explores and elucidates, vividly and dazzling, that thing we call womanhood. Once again, Almodóvar demonstrates that he is one of the few male directors who understand the woman's psychic. The way they cope with tragedy, the manner in which they support and encourage one another, the way they deal with the opposite sex; "Volver" is all about women. It really doesn't matter that the film is not perfect. The twists and turns are easy to predict - there are hardly any surprises in the film - but then I have always thought Almodóvar is a far better director than he is a writer. It works because the film is always on target, on message. Penelope Cruz blossoms under Almodóvar's self-assured direction. Sensual, earthy, charming; she reminded me of Sophia Loren in her prime. Almodovar's stock company of actors performs admirably well too. Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas and Chus Lampreave shine in key supporting roles. It's top tier Almodóvar - his winning streak continues.
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2008
There are few things that I enjoy more then a trip to "Almodovarland". A place where the line between past and present is always a little blurred. Where the visual style is always a colorful melange of retro-modern details.

And the women...oh the women! They are always a delight to watch. With the women too the line is blurred, between staunch determination and utter insanity. And whichever side of the line that these ladies fall, they are always a pleasure to watch. Full of humor, passion and love.

With Volver, Penelope Cruz really gets to show the world what she can do. She is breathtaking to look at and her performance here is both heartbreaking and at times heartwarming. And as is his style Pedro has surrounded her with a cast of brilliant actors (some new faces and some old favorites) and together they are brilliant.

The story is the usual combination of absurd chracters in crazy situations held together by strained romantic and/or familial ties that (to spite their quirky absurd nature) are oddly relatable, because so often they are more close to reality then we would care to admit.

Not to be missed for Almodovar fans.
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2006
I am now intriged by Pedro Almodóvar's work and intend to work my way through this list.

This is by far my favourite role for Penelope Cruz, who has always been an actress I can take or leave. Her role as a hard working Mum on the poverty line and coping with a series of events causing just a little bit of chaos, which take several twists and turns.

A totally original piece and one I certainly recommend
Super Reviewer
October 2, 2009
Pedro Almodóvar is one of the only directors in the world who has perfected the balance of comedy and tragedy and he proves it in Volver. The cast is excellent and it?s filmed beautifully, it?s brilliant, quite typical of Almodovar!
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