Friday, January 01, 2010

Broken Embraces

Today I saw Broken Embraces, starring Penélope Cruz and Lluis Hómar.

Magdalena (Cruz) is a secretary who wishes to be an actress. Ernesto (José Luis Gomez) is her wealthy boss, and the man who helped her family when her father grew gravely ill. She repays him by becoming his live-in mistress. Ernesto also has an annoying son (Rubén Ochandiano) who acts as his lap dog.

Mateo (Homar), a charismatic film director, no longer goes by that name. Since the accident that caused his blindness, he's been Harry Caine. He is taken care of by his agent Judit (Blanca Portillo) and her son Diego (Tamar Novas).

Through a series of flashbacks that rewind their lives back to 1992, we see how all of their worlds fit together. Director Pedro Almodóvar does this in such a way that you can't get lost in one era or the other—you're always clear on "when" you are mostly due to Mateo's eyesight or lack thereof (though I did wonder why he wore a non-digital wristwatch in one of his blind scenes).

There is love, betrayal, jealousy, anger, violence, sex, nudity, sensuality, humor, sentiment, creativity, redemption, resolution and color. Lots and lots of color.

From the cherry red suit Lena wears to the rich blues of the beach and the vibrant crosses that grace the walls of two of the main characters' homes, with few exceptions, this movie is drenched in prominent hues.

Those hues help distinguish when we're watching Mateo's movies from when we're lounging in the mansion, or making love at the beach house. They help the characters express their feelings, though we may not realize it until after it's happened.

All of the players are well cast and especially nice to watch is Lluis Homar, who moves seamlessly between a man with sight and a man without. And though I've seen Cruz do better work, it almost wouldn't feel like an Almodóvar film if she weren't the token siren.

You won't get bored in this one, and you'll delight in the aural assault of its visuals.

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