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Overall Rating

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Worth A Look: 42.86%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 7.14%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Broken Embraces
[] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"Lights, Camera, Passion"
3 stars

Here comes the story of Harry Caine (Lluis Homar), a filmmaker left blind in the wake of a car accident and living under a pseudonym ever since. He used to be Mateo Blanco, he used to love directing, and he used to love Lena (Penelope Cruz) before he lost her along with his sight in the accident. However, Lena’s wealthy husband, Ernesto Martel (Jose Luis Gomez), wasn’t as keen on their relationship and thus had his timid son (Ruben Ochandiano) keep tabs on the couple as they filmed a movie with Ernesto serving as producer, Mateo as director and Lena as the star.

This whole torrid love affair is what drives Pedro Almodovar’s latest melodrama, Broken Embraces, as it volleys between old-fashioned jealousy and present-day guilt. It’s a handsome picture to be sure, with Rodrigo Prieto’s lens making sure that every shot resonates with as much warmth and color as possible and with Almodovar doting upon his precious Penelope as much as ever before. Even when playing a bad actress, she’s a vision and then some in his films, alternately delicate and delightful depending on the moment.

But there aren’t nearly as many moments with her as one might think. Her presence lingers throughout as Almodovar’s screenplay bends over backwards to conjure up a twisty mystery out of such a simple love triangle, and for about the first hour, it works enough to be more of a tragic romance than a petty melodramatic tearjerker. Eventually, though, his narrative catches up with him, and just as things should be coming to a critical climax, Harry/Mateo’s production manager (Blanca Portillo) lets loose with a laughably lengthy monologue, the revealed secrets of which take the tone from something gripping, if drawn out, to an even more self-referential sense of apologia.

It’s as if Pedro has meant to make a half-assed movie in order to forgive himself for any other half-assed movies he’s made, or at least for his audience too, but the film in question that Harry/Mateo cared so much about as he cared for Lena is his character’s first comedy, and from the glimpses we get of it, it’s not a very funny one at that.

Just as Lena finds herself torn between two lovers, Almodovar seems to find himself torn between two movies – an alluring soap opera and a self-addressed valentine. If only he had learned from his own protagonist that a director blinded by his own love never tells stories quite like he used to...

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originally posted: 01/16/10 06:27:37
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Festival de Cannes For more in the 2009 Festival de Cannes series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 New York Film Festival For more in the 2009 New York Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/22/09 joe bates predictable, ponderous, self indulgent 1 stars
11/23/09 Simon Masterful touches,but Almodovar just doesn't hit that much deeper level that we know he can 3 stars
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  20-Nov-2009 (R)
  DVD: 16-Mar-2010


  DVD: 16-Mar-2010

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