Volver is perhaps the last of the 2006 awards season films I will see in a theater. Which is probably just as well seeing as how it’s now Spring 2007.

Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas) lost their parents a few years back in a fire, and their aunt Paula is not doing well, though aunt Paula is stubbornly living on her own. Meanwhile, Raimunda’s husband has lost his job, so she resolves to start working Sunday, the only day of the week she isn’t already working. Raimunda’s daughter, also named Paula, is, well, she’s a teenager (although it turns out the young actress who played her was only 11 at the time).

While Raimunda lives in Madrid, back in the small town she comes from the men die young. And the few men in this film don’t play very big roles. Besides all of the women already mentioned, there are also Agustina, an old family friend who lives next to aunt Paula, and Raimunda and Sole’s dead mother Irene (Carmen Maura), who appears to some people.

Besides the dead mother, this film has quite a few odd moments, and it’s really hard to say whether this is a drama, a comedy, a thriller, or what exactly. And that’s not unusual for a film by Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her and Bad Education, among others). It’s best to go into this film without any clear expectations. I found it quite good, and what I had read about Cruz being a much better actress in Spanish than she is in English was true.

I give it 3 stars out of 4 stars.

Seen 3/21/2007.


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