Broken Embraces

2009

Broken Embraces

Critics 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.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 154

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,504
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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 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, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Broken Embraces

All Critics (154) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (125) | Rotten (29)

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

    Jan 8, 2010 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    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.

    Jan 8, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Stylish and sly, an engaging exercise that gives us less than meets the eye.

    Jan 7, 2010 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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.

    Jan 6, 2010 | Rating: 2/4
  • It all adds up to an entertaining mash of suspense and melodrama.

    Dec 28, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • As long as Almodovar keeps investing such thought and energy in his work, he can play with whatever themes he desires.

    Dec 28, 2009 | Rating: 4.5/5

Audience Reviews for Broken Embraces

  • Apr 15, 2013
    A romantic thriller of sorts, and a great one at that, Broken Embraces is full of excitement, romance, and a whole lot of melodrama. It tells the story (within a story) of Mateo Blanco, a director who fell in love with a married actress, but the actress's old and jealous husband was all too displeased with her affair. Mateo ended up losing his lover and his eyesight, and now must recount the whole story to his young friend whilst unraveling the mysteries of his past in the process. Both Penélope Cruz and Lluis Homar are great as the two co-stars and, despite the movie's intentionally soapy storyline, their performances infuse it with an emotional and personal touch. Oddly enough I enjoyed this much more than Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's previous film Volver, which was more critically-acclaimed but didn't really hold my interest as tightly as Broken Embraces did. Nonetheless, Broken Embraces is a very enjoyable and consistently entertaining movie that is as exciting as it is accessible, and makes for another very good movie from Almodóvar.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 16, 2012
    The only other Almodovar movie I've seen is "All About my Mother". While I enjoyed that one I would pick this one over it any day. This film had wonderful story telling. It put humor into dark areas, it was chilling and disturbing at the same time. Almodovar let you figure out the twists on your own, without making it to out there and obvious. And yes there were a lot of twists. Penelope Cruz was great, and Almodovars use of colors made this a beautiful and a never boring experience.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 21, 2012
    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 R Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2012
    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 V Super Reviewer

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