Presented by Christopher Llewellyn Reed, chair, Film & Moving Image Department, Stevenson University
With the great Penelope Cruz leading the way, Volver stands as Almodóvar’s most serious exploration of the mother-daughter bond that he so loves. Cruz plays Raimunda, forced to a confront a serious crisis when her daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) commits a murder in self-defense. Instead of calling the police, they hide the body in a freezer. Amazingly, that is merely one part of this complex movie’s plot, for it seems that Raimunda’s dead mother, Irene (Women on the Verge’s Carmen Maura), has returned to haunt the apartment of her other daughter, Sole (Lola Dueñas). Or perhaps she never really died, though that would further complicate the question of who, exactly, burned to death next to her own husband in the fire that also ostensibly killed her. Though the premise is not without Almodóvar’s favored farce and melodrama, Volver turns somber as it examines the haunting horror of sexual abuse and its legacy. Cruz has never been more powerful as she is here, with Maura showing she can have her nervous breakdown and survive to fight again another day.
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