Harry Caine (Lluís Homar), a blind writer, is close to the son (Tamar Novas) of his personal assistant and begins to tell him the story of how he fell in love with a wealthy man’s mistress (Penélope Cruz). Director Pedro Almodóvar returns to familiar grounds in this drama, even going back as far as twenty years with a movie-in-the-movie that looks like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). That’s the playful, charming part, but the director also gets into his much more serious themes of love, obsession and identity that we have grown used to over the past decade. Longish, but well acted and as visually arresting as we’ve come to expect.
2009-Spain. 127 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Esther García. Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto. Music: Alberto Iglesias. Cast: Penélope Cruz (Lena), Lluís Homar (Mateo Blanco/Harry Caine), Blanca Portillo (Judit García), José Luis Gómez, Tamar Novas, Rubén Ochandiano.
Trivia: Original title: Los abrazos rotos.
European Film Awards: Best Composer.
Last word: “This is the most difficult role [Cruz] has played in all her career. She has all those characters inside her. She’s very conscious of her Audrey Hepburn looks, but in that same body, she can look like Sophia Loren did in the 50s – as she showed in ‘Volver’. And in the scene where she wears a white wig, she reminds me absolutely of the desolation of beauty in Marilyn Monroe. Penelope was tired that day. She was smiling like a model, but her eyes were sad and tired. I feel she is the perfect material that I can shape into all the different women I can imagine.” (Almódovar, The Telegraph)