Sunday, January 10, 2010

Abrazos Rotos

Any new film from Pedro Almodovar and his long-established collaborators is going to look great and sound great, the camera will move like a dancer and the strings will throb to perfection. That is true of any Almodovar film, but it seems to me that only about half of them succeed as unified works of art – or even as coherent entertainment – and Broken Embraces is not one of those. It is instead a string of pretexts for Penelope Cruz to channel various style-decades of the 20th century, with the 1990s predominating. The in-jokes are endless. Mainly these are sly references to bits of business from Almodovar's earlier movies, but also to the star's spectacularly successful sideline as a saleswoman for cosmetics. Viewed as a succession of magazine covers it really is a great film, and I'm glad to have seen it once, but am sure I will never bother to watch it again. With the masterpieces – like Habla Con Ella and Todo Sobre Mi Madre – a dozen viewings are too few.