Broken Embraces (15)

Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Screening at FACT from 28th August 2009

Reviewed by Mari Jones

The great Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar has always made fascinating films that show everyday life, relationships and the terrible secrets people keep. His latest offering, Broken Embraces, is no exception.

The film opens with a blind screenwriter called Harry Caine who is writing his latest screenplay when the news of the death of a man called Ernesto Martel (José Luis Gómez) prompts him to recall his past. The secrecy surrounding his past is made more intriguing when Harry reveals to us at the start of the film that his real name is in fact Mateo Blanco. And the mystery begins to unravel further with the appearance of a person calling himself ‘Ray X’ who wants to write a film with Harry. Who is ‘Ray X’? How does Ernesto Martel relate to Harry? Why does he call himself ‘Harry’? And just how has he lost his sight?

However it is Penélope Cruz who is the driving force behind this film, quite literally as her character, Lena, is at the centre of all the events as an aspiring actress who has managed to finally get her big break, although at a cost. Cruz herself is magnificent to watch in the role, brilliantly talented as always and bringing realism to the tortured woman who is desperate to become a star. Lluís Homar as Harry Caine is also exceptional as the blind man who has been suffering with the memory of previous events in his life. And Blanca Portillo as Judit García, Harry’s publicist and much put upon friend, also gives a standout performance as a haunted woman who may know more about Harry’s past than she is willing to reveal to anyone.

Although the plot sounds confusing (and it is hard to describe without giving too much away) it is an exceptional and absorbing multi layered film within a film mystery that draws comparisons to ‘film noir’ and some of Alfred Hitchcock’s work. However this film is at heart an Almodóvar creation, as he delivers a well-written and directed story about remembering and reconstructing the past and a film ultimately about obsession, betrayal and love.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed