Almodóvar isn't what he used to be (who is?), but he's a master of the medium nevertheless, deploying color and light and shadow not merely to express emotions but to tap into ours, directing the blood flow of the audience as much as he directs the movie.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Yet the film, against my wishes, left me unmoved.
The great Spanish director's fourth triumph in a row--following "All About My Mother," "Talk to Her" and "Bad Education"--Volver (which means "coming back") flows effortlessly between peril and poignancy, the real and the surreal, even life and death.
Before it loses its fizz--maybe two thirds of the way through--Volver offers the headiest pleasures imaginable.
Although Volver has a tendency to stray too far down tangential paths, it is ultimately satisfying.
Peopled with superbly drawn, attractive characters smoothly integrated into a well-turned, low-tricks plotline, Volver may rep Almodovar's most conventional piece to date, but it is also his most reflective, a subdued, sometimes intense and often comic homecoming that celebrates the pueblo and people that shaped his imagination.
The movie opens as borderline Hitchcock, echoing the tone of the filmmaker's bravura "Bad Education" (2004), and then turns into a kind of overly conceptualized Tennessee Williams.
It's very difficult to mesh fantasy with reality, but with great charm and a light touch, Almodovar shows exactly how it should be done.
The movie is enjoyable, but not passionately engaging in the way we've come to expect from Almodóvar, and it leaves you somewhat cold in spite of the warmth of Cruz's galvanic performance.
Part noir-comedy, part ghost story, but it's mostly a potent reflection on how where we come from shapes us, in ways we can't understand until we've been away for a long, long while.