Last night I saw the new Almodovar at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. Its probably the most apt space to view an Almodovar – the velvet chairs, vagueishly art deco interior, the layers of dust, the faint hint of cigarette smoke – all reminders of a bygone era. Recently, I’ve made it a principle to not read a review of a film until I have seen it. Perhaps a risky move but I prefer to form my own opinions. Incidentally, the reviews of said film have been so-so and I can perhaps see why. It’s your typical Amodovar – high camp and theatrics, convoluted plot – but at the same time it isn’t. It also clocks in at one and a half hours but feels longer than that.
I thought it was terrific.
Penelope Cruz was as radiant as ever. Almodovar clearly adores her. Every moment she’s on screen you can almost feel that he becomes more involved. It’s almost like he is painting her, each frame of her like an artist’s brush stroke in thick, luscious sweeps of oil.
For all the focus on Cruz and other female characters – Blanca Portillo is a joy to watch and has some hilarious scene-stealing moments – this is a film about men. The evil that men do, men in love, the relationship between father and son, homosexuality, male pride – so much so that it could have been called Men On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. The only other Almodovar I can recall that deals with male relationships is Bad Education. However, it’s obvious that it’s the female perspective that truly interests Almodovar and squarley where his sympathies lay.
The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to grab some film stills of this bad boy! I’m not going to ruin any visual surprises but I’d gladly see it again, and probably will, just because of this alone. The other thing I loved about it was the way the story unfolded in slowly undulating waves, flowing from past to present, shifting focus… The recurring mantra is “film within a film”.
Usually, Almodovar films are quite chaotic affairs but Broken Embraces somehow manages to be both busy yet calm at the same time. It’s also very, very funny whilst at times it’s repels you.
Finally, Code Red. Red appears judiciously throughout the film. An Almodovar signature as we all know but the use of red in this film is so intense that its almost overpowering. I find this use of red quite interesting. It makes me think of the way the designer Valentino would always include a red dress in collections. Perhaps Pantone should create an Almodovar Red. A million obvious parallels could be drawn:
Red apple – in this case red tomatoes
It’s that Vampiric theme I was banging on about in an earlier post, or was going to, rearing its head again. The idea hasn’t quite formed yet but the pieces seem to be falling together.