Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo
Part of the 40 Years of Filmhouse Season
A serio-comic melodrama featuring a career-high performance from Penélope Cruz and the return to the fold of former muse, Carmen Maura, Almodóvar's Volver ranks among the director's best work. The less said about the plot the better really – to give away any of it would lessen its considerable impact – suffice to say it's a characteristically clever, intricate tale, brilliantly told, of death, superstition, secrets and lies amongst the women of three generations of the same family.
There continues to be a stylistic continuity throughout Almodóvar's work – in particular the use of ultra-vivid colour, particularly red – and certainly Volver could never be confused with the work of any other filmmaker, but the camp element present in his earlier work has been replaced by a calmer maturity and a narrative sophistication and is all the better for it – and in this, his 16th feature film, he just doesn't put a foot wrong.
Simply put, Volver is the work of a master filmmaker at the very peak of his powers, and if a dazzlingly well-told, fast-paced story full of pathos (without a trace of sentimentality), great performances, energy, pitch-perfect humour and invention is likely to appeal, well, really, it does not get any better than this.
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