Volver (R)

Comedy 111 January 26, 2007
By Rob Nelson
The title of this latest and highly enjoyable comic melodrama from beloved Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar translates as Coming Back -- as in "back from the dead," referring to the amusingly matter-of-fact resurrection of Irene (Carmen Maura), an old grandmother who refuses to let mortality get in the way of unfinished familial business. For the filmmaker, Volver represents a return of other sorts as well: to his childhood home of La Mancha, to lighter material after Bad Education, and to All About My Mother's Penélope Cruz, who, cast here as Irene's catering daughter Raimunda, delivers her most loose-limbed and endearing performance. In fact, the film's playful ode to female resilience -- men are literally disposable here -- owes an enormous debt to the dynamic ensemble work of five gifted comediennes, all fully deserving of their special award at the Cannes Film Festival. As expected in an Almodóvar movie, the cinematography, flaunting every conceivable shade of red, is eye-poppingly vivido.
Pedro Almodovar Penélope Cruz, Yohana Cobo, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Chus Lampreave, Pilar Castro, Antonio de la Torre Pedro Almodovar Esther García Sony Pictures Classics

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