January 29, 2007 [Volver]

The colors in Volver are bright, as snappy as the little staccato kisses the women give each other in greeting and conspiracy, in hope and agreement. We first see them cleaning tombs in the wind, dead husbands' as well as their own, blinking dust away from eyes oddly bright and a little mad. It reminded me of García Márquez' "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World," the women dressing him up, falling in love with him—their own husbands paling in comparison. Pedro Almodóvar also tells "a tale for children"—no, make that women, as he yet again asserts that our lives have been built not by Adam but despite him—maybe even built by Eve herself; and her daughters tend to band together against the wind—against the men who make them mad.

At the center is the lovely Penelope Cruz—and it's fun to watch the other women know it's her, commenting on her cleavage—and the camera, too, looking at her and admiring—although she can be a bit much, full of temper and rash words as she alternates between hurting and apologizing. Around her are women bound by the evil deeds of the men in their lives—and by the women who did not bond with them but have thwarted their hopes or ruined their memories with regrets.

But as they work hard—burying bodies, stealing restaurants, hiding ghosts—they regroup and close ranks, smiling warriors holding onto each other as they make their way down slippery slopes and steep upgrades and make me feel completely extraneous to their efforts to be safe and happy. No, they'll take care of that themselves and together; my only job is to watch in admiration and maybe a little jealous yearning—and not just for one bright flashing look from Penelope's Spanish eyes but also for the little world they cunningly make, with goodies stowed away in Tupperware and a loving grandma tucked beneath the bed in case I need a reassuring hug and a good half-dozen kisses.


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