Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Broken Embraces

One of this year's favorite films. It is really impressive to witness the astonishing productivity of Pedro Almodovar. He never ceases to surprise us with another great film. Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos) is yet another magnificent film. The film is deeply rooted in Almodovar's language in terms of discourse and visuals. The movie without being autobiographic talks about a film director, which is not unusual for directors to touch upon this topic; like Fellini's 8 1/2 or Woody Allen's "Hollywood Ending".
The movie deals with our complex contemporary narrative, a weird combination of reality and fantasy. It is exemplifies the difficulty of telling stories these days in a cool, different, innovative way. He has been using this narrative style for a while, but more than ever these issues are perfectly clear or perhaps he has always been ahead of his time and finally after 20 years it makes sense for mass culture.
Almodovar uses analog and digital editing techniques, but most importantly the narrative employs parallel times, film references like Rosellini's 1954 "Journey to Italy" with Ingrid Bergman, which the film is loosly based on. The character of Lena played by Penelope Cruz goes through film transformation within this journey of visual references from Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Marylin Monroe, however not in a postmodern fashion but in this new kind of visual oscillation and sensations that is part of our culture.
Most importantly Almodovar makes self references to his own films; the film within the film "Chicas y Maletas" is a direct reference to "Women on the Verge of a nervous breakdown, from the gaspacho, the burned bed, to the humor itself, only a great director can do this.
The film's end is brilliant, the quote "All films should always be finished" is something we should believe in, every endeavor should be taken to its ultimate consequences, to its end.

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