Broken Embraces

You may get whiplash following the twists and turns in the latest wild ride from Spain's Pedro Almodóvar. But it hurts so good. Broken Embraces is the fourth film in which Almodóvar has directed his muse, Penélope Cruz. They bring out something elemental in each other, even when a plot defies description. Cruz plays Lena, a hooker-turned-actress who falls for her Almodóvar-ish director (Lluís Homar), who uses makeup, wigs and wardrobe to morph her into sexual fantasies men can watch. Then a car crash ends Lena's life and the director's career until...

Well, I'll never tell. What I will conjecture is that Broken Embraces, lyrically shot by Rodrigo Prieto, represents Almodóvar's broken love affair with film itself — how a camera can lie and keep secrets that maybe only another camera can reveal. Got that? Doesn't matter. Cruz exudes a sensual aura of mystery that holds you spellbound. And Almodóvar, a true poet of cinema, creates images — horrifying and healing — that live inside your head like a waking dream. You want to miss a movie like that? I didn't think so.

From The Archives Issue 318: May 29, 1980
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