Los abrazos rotos

BROKEN EMBRACES

Any movie in which one gets to look at Penelope Cruz is never going to be completely a bad thing (okay… “Vanilla Sky,” but in that case you have “Abre Los Ojos” to replace it), we know this. But what is it about her when she works with Almodovar? Isn’t she that much more beautiful? That much more mysterious? Friendship or not, it is no wonder that she continually teams with the maestro (who, while gay, admits she is so beautiful he would consider sleeping with her). He is a pure and true cinema artist, and one that was born to work with color. He knows just what textures and colors and backdrops to shoot. He knows exactly how Cruz’s hair and skin complexion look in the light, and what to complement that with.  His framing is impeccable and he has a meticulous eye for detail. We often see her naked in his work, but there is even purity to this. Sure it is sexy, but we look because this is beyond sexuality; this is art.

And we do often see sex in Almodovar, but he always manages to make it fresh. He probably has to, or else he’ll have to find something else to write about. There are two well crafted sex scenes. The hands down best shot is a play on the typical “shoot it under the covers” way of dealing with copulating. Under Almodovar’s careful framing, we watch the entire act unfold with a handheld mobile camera that is traveling up and down a body hidden behind perhaps the cleanest white linen bed sheet there has ever been. It is a mask, but it is also an enhancer for the viewer—and in two ways. One, because, everyone has seen sex before, but this is foreign: by hiding the act, he is making it fresh and curious again.  When the sheet gets pulled down (in a rather trying act), the viewer is almost not sure if he wants all to be revealed. The second reasoning is due to the fact that this should be covered. This isn’t real. In the other sex scene, more is revealed, because Cruz’s character gives of herself. In this scene, that is not the case. She has sold her body, sex, and companionship long ago. What the man is getting is what we are seeing: a façade.

And by now you may notice that we haven’t even touched upon the story line of “Broken Embraces” yet. I must admit I am torn on this. The beauty of the film already has me sold, and I am entertained. But I was also entertained in say, “Volver,” and that really came together to be a powerful picture. I have a feeling my mind could be changed upon a repeat viewing, but as of now I’m not so sure what it all meant, nor how important the whole thing is. Sure the ending could be self-reflexive for Almodovar, but every viewer shouldn’t have to bring his canon with him.

“Broken Embraces” takes place during two periods of time. It concerns a film director, Cruz’s character, and a jealous rich man who idolizes her. In the beginning of the film, we are in the present. Our film director, blind, has taken up screenwriting to pass the time. He is visited by an unwanted guest that stirs up the past.

That past involves Penelope Cruz, who is under the employ of the rich man. She needs money to help her ailing mother. And he knows this. And all he wants is her. So things happen as they sometimes do, and the mother is taken care of, and Cruz winds up his wife. A few years pass and she decides she wants to take up acting. After all, her husband is the producer…and our blind man the director.

And that is all I will tell you. Except that the title “Broken Embraces” can be considered a classic DOUBLE EN-TOON-DE! And that in the earlier time frame, our director can see. He is making a comedic tale: a departure for him.

I don’t care if it was a film about Penelope Cruz combing her hair. It looks beautiful and you’ve probably already seen “Avatar.” What else are you going to do?

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