Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Broken Embraces" a graceful character study

TITLE: "Broken Embraces"
DIRECTOR: Pedro Almodóvar
STARS: Penélope Cruz, Luís Homar, Blanca Portillo
EDITOR: José Salcedo
AWARDS: Palme d'Or (Nomination)
BOX OFFICE: $5,009,119 (USA)
RUN TIME: 127 min.
VIEWING FORMAT: 35mm Film Print

After filmmaker Mateo Blanco (Homar) falls in love with his newest starlet (Cruz), who is married to the film's producer (José Luis Gómez), tragedy strikes. Turned blind, Blanco becomes a screenwriter known as Harry Caine, and tries to put his life back together with the help of his agent, and friend (Portillo).

Almodóvar's film is one of his most recent releases, in a career spanning decades as one of the most influential filmmakers in the world. "Broken Embraces" takes his trademark character study approach to storytelling, and focuses it on those people surrounding the making a film in the 1990's. As with most of his films, critics loved it, and the international film community has praised it as well.

The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival, in the year of its release. It also earned numerous nominations, internationally, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. It also received an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Almodóvar is known for his strong female leads. This film focuses on a male protagonist though, surrounded by strong women. His struggles with success, want, and need are shown through metaphors of filmmaking and romance.

This film is not as well known as some of the director's other works, but it still stands its ground as a contemporary classic in its own right. Almodóvar's homage to movies is beautiful (as is expected), and surprising. His focus on a male, surrounded by strong females kept the film accessible without sacrificing his vision and story. His combination of a romance story, with a thriller-style plot, keeps the film strong.

This film is not perfect, and is not something that would convince anyone to become an Almodóvar fan. It still gives a veteran fan of his work what they would like, while delivering a universal message, through great characters. If it sparks the interest of a curious filmgoer, it is worth a watch.

MY IMDb RATING:  7 out of 10

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