Los abrazos rotos (2009) dir. Pedro Almodovar
Reflecting the melodrama of classic cinema and melding it with his personal touches, Almodovar has created a new classic for Spanish Film. More than anything, I just keep thinking about how much I love this movie.
(Of course, something totally personal which I like about this movie is that I got to use it in a film paper recently, fuck yeah!)
Harry Caine (Lluis Homar) is a blind screenwriter, working from his apartment, assisted by his agent Judit (Blanca Portillo) and her son Diego (Tamar Novas). One day he is visited by an eager director Ray X (Ruben Ochandiano) for a movie about revenge, but Harry turns him flat down. When Judit leaves for location and Diego nearly dies from a drug overdose, Harry Caine tells his story from 14 years ago, when he was still known as Mateo Blanco.
What follows is the best possible mix of neo-noir and circa-1950s melodrama, opening with Lena (Penelope Cruz) working as a secretary for Ernesto Martel (Jose Luis Gomez) while taking care of her dying mother. She becomes his mistress, eventually having the opportunity to become an actress. She auditions for Blanco’s new movie and they fall in love.
The best part of this movie is that it knows how to hold tension without throwing in unnecessary gimmicks, which I feel like some dramas now tend to do. Broken Embraces feels like a classic drama both in stylization (the film they work on is like an Audrey Hepburn comedy circa 1962) and in execution. I universally loved all performances, including Martel’s creepy son who follows Lena around with a camera, providing evidence to his father of her affair. In a factor of creepiness and tension, watching Martel watch the video with a woman who reads lips providing the dialogue. It is both a testament to the character’s paranoia and the set piece for his realization of the affair.
Everyone in here gives a fabulous performance. I can’t even pick out a favorite, everyone is really top-dollar here. It’s a really well done drama, carefully thought out and pieced together to form a film that is decidedly beautiful and well-crafted.
An absolute must-see.