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Cannes Day Seven: Broken Embraces
Posted on Wednesday May 20, 2009, 00:21 by Damon Wise
Excuse the late blog but I'm still not quite sure what to say about the new film by Pedro Almodovar. I saw Broken Embraces just before the festival (it's been out in Spain for a few weeks now), and it really didn't grab me. I've seen all but one of the Spanish director's 17 major features – all on the big screen, my favourites being Matador and High Heels – so I'm not being mealy mouthed: I just can't quite figure out anything better to say, other than it's one of the director's better minor-key works, with a stronger-than-usual melancholy edge. I think the problem is that the main character is male, and for some reason I just don't find Almodovar's heroes as engaging as his heroines. And, also, I was misled by the mistranslated pre-publicity, which suggested an almost Charlie Kaufman-esque film-within-a-film. But as it stands, Broken Embraces is a very straightforward melodrama about a blind film director (Lluis Homar) who has lost his sight and the love of his life (Penelope Cruz) and struggles to reconcile his bitterness and disillusionment in life with his passion for filmmaking.
I wanted to love it but I simply admired it, because even at his worst (hmm, with the exception of Kika, which was pretty horrible) Almodovar is, like Lars Von Trier and Ang Lee, a very skilled and worthwhile director. This, though, was perhaps a bit too much of a private meditation to really score big. Unusually for Almodovar, there's not the normal vivacity, and, most surprising (for me) was the lack of a breakout player, like Antonia San Juan in All About My Mother, or Javier Camara in Talk To Her. Just as disconcerting was the way in which Almodovar regulars such as Chus Lampreave and Rossy De Palma seemed to be artificially shoe-horned in. But... the more I think about it, and (more importantly) the more I've found out about it (from Almodovar himself), the more I think it's earned its place in the career box set. My main quibble remains that it finds Pedro repeating himself – its core themes of identity, creativity and emotional impotence echo The Flower Of My Secret, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down and Bad Education (in not that order) – but there are some very intelligent and astute ideas tucked away in it that make me want to revisit it later.
Anyway... it's getting late.
And I have to go to bed.
To get up for Inglourious Basterds...
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Posted on Wednesday May 20, 2009, 00:51
and while you sleep i may steal your identity and ticket to see the basterds....(evil laugh followed by well timed comic cough)
Posted on Wednesday May 20, 2009, 01:12
Excited about Inglourious Basterds much?! :)
See, we don't have much to say about Broken Embraces either.
Posted on Sunday May 24, 2009, 20:02
I saw it last night and really, really loved it. I think it`s Almoldovar`s best work I`ve seen so far. Highly recommended