Avant-garde cinema's experimental appeal comes with an additional cultural bonus, when you watch the work of famous international directors compared to picking yet another mainstream creation.
If you missed it during the 2006-2007 Oscar buzz, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's Volver (The Return) is quite up there in that regard. It is as colorful and uplifting as it is dark and dreary, in giving us a peek at life in rural Spain.
It is a family drama that blends fantasy, suspense, spookiness, shock, and humor to tell the story of the courageous women of La Mancha, all in Mr. Almodovar's signature style of irreverence and brutal candor. With a few representative caricatures, Almodovar's handling paints the profile of an entire community, and, in doing so, lets its life style come to the fore - a quiet way of nonchalance, grit, and determination to keep going without ever wallowing in self pity. The details of their curses, gross as they may be, get brushed aside in their journey of strength and resilience.
The characters are led by Penelope Cruz's indefatigable and radiant Raimunda. The entire cast of ladies were collectively honored with the 'Best Actress' award at the 2006 Cannes film festival.
Watching the 'special features', especially the interviews with Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz, is another perk on top of the perks in the Blu-ray DVD. As with his other projects, such as his 2009's Broken Embraces (with Penelope Cruz in the lead, again), there is something extraordinarily crisp and bright about Almodovar's visuals (and you'll know why/how when you see the 'making of Volver' also on the spacial features list).
Recommended if you are in a mood to study the art form, not for casual viewing.