Volver (4 Stars)

A review for Film Fan.

This is my first venture into Spanish films. Being dyslexic I have always found it daunting to read a movie but lately I have tried watching German films to help me learn German. Not only is it a useful tool to help hear German more regularly; German cinema produces some very good films, so it is entertaining too! I have really enjoyed German cinema so I have begun to wonder what other good films I am missing out on simply because I have to read them. A friend very kindly lent me a box set of four Pedro Almodóvar’s films. I decided my first film from the set should be Volver, a 2006 film staring Penélope Cruz.

Volver is based around Raimunda (Penélope Cruz), her daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) and her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas). Raimunda is a hardworking, working class mother with a deadbeat husband. The sisters, who are still not over the death of their parents (who died several years earlier in a house fire) are shocked by the death of their Aunt. This recent death along with other events in Raimunda’s life triggers the materialisation of her mother’s spirit (Carmen Maura) to help comfort the sisters as they try to get on with their lives and overcome the difficult situations.

I found the film a little difficult as I don’t speak Spanish at and the film is a little fast-paced to begin with. I was interested by the different cultural beliefs of the women in the film, especially by the buying and maintaining of your own gravestone before you die and the belief in spirits manifesting themselves to help you through crisis. I thought Pedro Almodóvar directed well and I loved the location of the film and thought the scenery was good. The storyline is quite original, which is refreshing (take note Jurassic World!) and the acting was fantastic. However I thought the script let the film down a little. Raimunda is a very strong woman, but given what she has been through she doesn’t seem to quiver from a strong or happy disposition. It seems that in the writing of the script, the writer’s thought they didn’t have time to add a scene showing the situation overcoming Raimunda. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have a strong female lead – but it may be a little unrealistic to aspect someone to go through so much and not breakdown at least once. Another downside is the dialogue is a little fast paced and takes some time to get use to reading so quickly – but never the less a very good film that is well worth a watch!

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