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Broken Embraces: Pedro Loves Penelope Part IV

by Zach Oat December 11, 2009 5:40 pm
<i>Broken Embraces</i>: Pedro Loves Penelope Part IV

Fans of the films of Pedro Almodovar need no encouragement or discouragement to go see this movie. Nor do fans of Penelope Cruz, unless you're the kind who only likes her in Sahara and maybe Bandidas and that's it. We certainly can't blame you for liking those films (well, maybe a little bit), but you owe it to yourselves to watch Cruz in all of her films, including her four films by Almodovar. This latest finds Cruz in fine form as the secretary who becomes her boss's mistress who wants to be an actress and falls in love with her director, but it's a twisty, weaving path. The film is not linear, flashing back between the present day -- where the director, now blind, makes a living writing screenplays with his assistant and her son -- and the past, where Cruz meets him, and they have a torrid affair that is suspected by her jealous lover. And it is soap-tastic.

Cruz is beautifully sad and sadly beautiful as the woman who wants out of her relationship and is for a short while confined to a wheelchair, and Lluis Homar plays his two stages of life masterfully -- young, virile director and old, still-virile blind man. Ruben Ochandiando and Jose Luis Gomez compete for creepiest villain as the gay teen who tapes everything that happens on set for his dad and the boss who has a lip-reader narrate all of his son's footage. It may be too much soap for some, with the wheelchair and a terrible accident and betrayal and secret parentage, but it's also a love letter to making movies, as the director laments the fate of his film almost as much as the loss of Cruz, and gleefully whips up a vampire script with his protegé. It's also an homage to Almodovar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the film on which the film-within-the film is based. So fans of movies and soap operas in general -- as well as Cruz, Almodovar and Breakdown in specific -- this is the movie for you.

Did you see Broken Embraces? Break it to us gently below.

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