“Broken Embraces” (“Los Abrazos rotos”)
“Broken Embraces”, Pedro Almodovar’s newest film shows us Penelope Cruz at her very best. As Lena she gives a beautifully subtle performance. The beauty of Almodovar’s work is there are many levels and every time you see one of his films you find something new. This is a film that is both complicated and simple at the same time. The plot is about a blind screenwriter, Mateo (Lluis Homar), who writes under the nom de plume of Harry Caine. This is a name that he chose after becoming blind and he uses it well.
The film looks at many issues and themes but the overriding one is fathers and sons and this is not at all what I expected and it was quite a surprise when I realized it. I am not really sure how to classify this film according to genre as it has so many different aspects—it’s romantic and mysterious, funny and a movie within a movie. The film bridges a love triangle and disaster for two families. It is a melodrama and a psychological look at the way some live and when a traffic accident happens that affects the lives of six people, things really start to happen.
We are introduced to the blind screenwriter in Madrid in 2008 and he is shocked to hear of the death Ernesto Martel, although we are not aware as to why. The movie then goes back in time to 1992 when Martel (Jose Luis Gomez) is a business man with a very beautiful secretary, Lena (Penelope Cruz). Her father is dying from cancer and Martel helps the family pay the bills for his treatment but this costs Lena a lot as she must adhere to his sexual demands and she becomes his girlfriend. We then go forward again to 2008 when Mateo (Caine) meets Ray X (Ruben Ochandiano) who wants his help in writing a screenplay about a gay son who is able to get back at his father who is homophobic and this leads us down a path of thinking which turns out to be wrong.
The rest is for you to decipher yourself and you should have a wonderful experience doing so. Although a bit longer than films today, I found the movie to be interpreting and as usual Penelope Cruz is wonderful.