March 21, 2007

Almodovarian world...

The man from La Mancha

Volver,set in Pedro Almodovar’s hometown, La Mancha, is a movie where the living and the dead co-exist without problems


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Volver, Pedro Almodovar's latest venture opens to action which shifts between his hometown of La Mancha and a working class neighbourhood in Madrid but in sooth the film is situated in the sort of Almodovarian world his followers have grown to love over the last two decades - where every room and street corner is saturated with bright color and there is a dash of red in every mis-en-scene alongwith vivid and discordant feelings of violence, pain and love.

With Volver, he abandons the dark terrain of his male-centric films like Live Flesh, Matador and Bad Education to revisit the woman-centered territory of his films like Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown and All About My Mother.
His women are hearty, self-possesing and compassionate despite the monstrous abuses that plague their lives. They live in a world nearly free from prejudice, luminous and optimistic. He loves his women characters and watches over them like a guardian angel (sometimes literally with top shots), generously handing the film over to his actresses who shoulder its weight almost entirely and easily on their gorgeous shoulders. The film may be reminiscence of the early American Feminist ideas of sisterhood but Almodovar's greatest source of inspiration is clearly his own childhood memories of being brought up by women in a patriarchal and gender-divided world of fascist Spain.

With the years the enfant terrible's films have become more self assured and simpler with lesser intricate parallel plots or flashbacks and more structural niceties. Also missing is the wild overt sexuality of previous films like Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down; but the essential quirkiness that accentuates his work is intact in this film as ever.

The film deals with death in the most natural way treating it as just another human state and liberating it from the clutches of heightened tragedy. The directors violent rebellion against the church is less pronounced but puts in an appearance nonetheless as he indulges the idea of resurrection of body. One of the central characters long thought dead reappears and expresses her desire to color and style her hair before she can elucidate the more mstical reasons for her return.
The plot is full of twists and turns, secrets and mysteries- embroiling cancer, incest, ghosts, murder and the ills of tv. It is often improbable but that is of little concern given that it is merely a tool for the director to get to the heart of his matter- the soul and spirit of women. And in laying bare their soul, he lays bare the soul of Spain through History. In a blink-andmiss shot there are turbines that dot the skyline. Clearly, much has changed in La Mancha from the times of Quixote's windmills, but the essence of the small town- its superstitions and madness are preserved as if from the times of Cervantes.

Volver means coming back and true to its name the film marks the coming back of this unsurpassable Spanish master to his home town, his comedic roots, to Carmen Maura who he casts for the first time after a fallout 16 yrs ago but most importantly to the world of women he has created with his previous films- a world where they survive boisterously balancing reality and romance-The only of its kind where it is always great to be a woman.

1 comment:

  1. i have only seen WOMEN ON THE VERGE...
    and absolutely LOVED it for it's honesty and sincerity!!!!

    this article juz motivates me enough to make sure i catch his other good films SOMETIME in life!!!!!!