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:: Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos)

When people put together lists of the world’s best directors one name that is constantly unfairly left off is Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar. People forget that he was one of the first directors to put modern Spain on the screen or that he recognised the talent that Penelope Cruz would become. The last time Almodovar and Cruz worked together (on ‘Volver’) it won her an Oscar, now they team up again on ‘Broken Embraces’ another film that deserves to be flooded with awards, and contains an opening that will guarantee to leave the audience wanting to know more.

Harry Caine (Lluis Homar) is a successful screenwriter who works closely with his agent/producer Judit (Blanca Portillo) and her son (and budding screenwriter) Diego (Tamar Novas). Old wounds are opened when a young filmmaker, Ray X (Ruben Ochandiano) urges Harry to help him with his script… a personal story. A whole new side of Harry is revealed, a side when he was known as Mateo and was in love with the beautiful, Lena (Penelope Cruz), his lead actress in a film he directed that surprisingly flopped.

Very few filmmakers command the screen in the way Pedro Almodovar does. Many will criticise ‘Broken Embraces’ for being too long, but they are wrong in doing so because Almodovar’s script is so tight it keeps you captivated for each minute that it plays out on screen. More importantly he manages to capture the ‘film-inside-a-film’ concept so well that it works sensationally well and never comes across as lame. In fact the reason why Harry’s film flopped becomes one of the pressing mysteries that you, as an audience, desperately want answered.

Almodovar has also chosen the perfect cast. Seasoned performers like Lluis Homar and Penelope Cruz sizzle while relative newcomer, Tamar Novas is a standout who shows he has an amazing future ahead of him. While the romantic pairing of Homar and Cruz seems a strange choice, it does work without delving into the creepiness of the Catherine Zeta Jones and Sean Connery pairing in ‘Entrapment’.

‘Broken Embraces’ is a stunningly brilliant, well-written film that will suck you in from the opening and totally captivate anyone that loves their films to feature a ‘good story’. Cruz shines in a role that was made for her while director, Almodovar shows why he deserves the title of one of Europe’s best directors. ‘Broken Embraces’ is one of the films of the year.