Whether you call it VOLver or BOLber, this is a really enjoyable movie. S and I went on opening night to the very crowded Baxter Avenue Theater. We had to choose between Volver and Notes on a Scandal. I wanted to see Notes, S wanted to see Volver, so (to steal a line from a TV commercial) we compromised and saw Volver. No, not really. I was up for both so we mutually agreed to see Volver. Any suggestion to the contrary is slander. But enough about me, this is about Volver.
This is a visually beautiful movie, from the landscape to the clothing to the food. Almodovar went out of his way, too, to make an advantage of Penelope Cruz from every angle. Seriously, there are a couple of shots here where there seemed to be no objective but to present her bosom. The story revolves (rebolbes?) around three women in Spain, each in her on way on a journey to deeper maturity. Two sisters, Raimunda and Sole, played by Cruz and Lola Dueñas, and Raimunda's daughter, Paula (21 year old actress Johana Cobo, playing a much younger-looking character).
This is a movie that deals with difficult themes, hard to elaborate without spoiling, so suffice it to say there's some life and some death, some violence, some cooking, lots of cooking actually. There's a lot of air-kissing. There's a wake, fascinating in it's character as old-fashioned European Catholic. With more air-kissing. There's a reunion of sorts. There's also a plot twist.
So if my reflections on the film seem intricate and messy, it's because the plot is like that--to great dramatic effect. This is a movie about relationships and life, and how badly we can mess them each up. It's also about love and redemption, made to look easier, perhaps, than they really are. It's about denial and vengeance and justice, and about deception and confession.
So Volver is a movie about hard living and dealing with tragedy and overcoming adversity. It would be easy for a movie about these things to be depressing, or saccharine, or maudlin. But this movie is none of those things. It is a little sweet, but not to an extreme. More importantly, it's provocative and entertaining. A great movie for date night, with something for everyone.