Penélope Cruz’s status as one of Hollywood’s glitterati is perhaps unquestionable, but many, foolishly, overlook her lesser-known Spanish work.
Volver, by no means a small film having won the best screenplay award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival along with various other wins and nominations in other highly contested award ceremonies, is a vibrant film that director Pedro Almodóvar describes as being ‘precisely about death’. Death permeates the entire film with the character’s encountering death from all sides. Death as a result of illness, age and murder fill the narrative whilst several characters believe that they encounter the ghost of Raimunda (Cruz)’s mother who is trying to amend the injustices she left after her death.
Capitalising on word play, the film chooses to obviously describe some of its elements; Sole is interestingly linked to the idea of loneliness and, with the direct translation of ‘volver’ being that to ‘return’, it is obvious that the mother’s reappearance is pivotal to the film but it cannot be limited to such a definition. The music that appears in the film is memorable as is its intricate storyline. Not only does the film examine death and the different ways people cope with it, it explores the repercussions of lust, greed and denial. In this way the film foes against Almodovár’s description as it is not necessarily about death alone, it is also about life, birth and what people make of what they have. The film shirks away from having a arching romantic storyline, instead relying on the potency of the relationship held between the female-heavy cast. Volver’s vitality and brightness is something that captured critic and other viewer’s hearts alike.
Best line; Raimunda: ‘It smells of … farts, my mother’s farts’.
Best performance; The grandmother provides a heart-warming performance.
The film expands on a story which appears in another of the director’s films!