By Rebecca Redshaw
You can count on one hand the number of men in Volver [pronounced Bol-Ber]. One man leaves town in the first five minutes, one spends most of the film blanketed and stuffed in a freezer, and one blows in and out of several scenes with a visiting film crew. Of course, the only man that truly matters at all in Volver never appears on screen. Pedro Almodóvar is probably the best known Spanish director of our time with wonderful films on his writer/director resumé; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Bad Education, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Talk to Her, and (my favorite), All About My Mother.
Assembling a wonderfully diverse cast of women for Volver, Almodóvar story line blends the questionably surreal (ghosts?) with day to day reality (making a living). Penélope Cruz is Raimunda, a stunning beauty raising a teenage daughter. Her sister, Sole (Lola Dueñas) gets by as a hairdresser working out of her apartment. Each has a secret.
There are lots of women – aunts, mothers, cousins, villagers, friends, whores, mourners – all who seem to know one another and greet one another affectionately with a multitude of kisses whenever and wherever they meet.
Drawing heavily on his own recollections of growing up surrounded by women, Almodóvar sensitively, and with humor, reveals their strengths, their passions, and their determination to get on with life.
Cruz almost steals the picture with her physical beauty, sex appeal, and captivating screen presence, but all the women hold their own in Volver making it a terrific girls’ night at the movies.