Broken Embraces (‘Los Abrazos Rotos’)

DRAMA; 2hr 8min (Spanish with subtitles)

STARRING: Penélope Cruz, Lluís Homar

Altered egos: Homar and Cruz

Moving deftly between the Nineties and the Noughties, Spanish writer-director Pedro Almodóvar (Volver) explores the recent past to explain the workings of the present, in which former film-maker Mateo Blanco (Homar) is now a blind screenwriter who calls himself Harry Caine and lives alone in Madrid. Lena (Cruz), the leading lady in Harry’s last film, is also a woman of shifting identities: the secretary turned mistress of a powerful and vengeful financier (José Luis Gómez as Ernesto Martel), she moonlighted as a sometime lady of the night but always dreamed of acting. As Ernesto’s gilded plaything and Mateo’s star and lover (and no wonder: Cruz-as-Lena is a sensuous work of art), Lena can be owned but never really possessed — not even by a man accustomed to control.


Almodóvar is such an agile storyteller and so at one with his naturalistic actors that the pieces of this mysterious, emotional puzzle slot together with silky precision. The bubbly narrative flows with the ease of a director completely in tune with his cinematic craft, confident that its bewitching momentum will carry the audience away.