- To return (2006)After the hostility or indifference generated by his 2004 film La mala educación (Bad Education), Volver was, for director Pedro Almodovar, a "return" in more than one sense. First, it was a return to brighter colors and a lighter story centered on women after two dissections of twisted male psychologies. In turn, this meant a return to popularity among critics and audiences, who had complained about the grimness of the director's last efforts: the film made 10 million Euro at the box office (in a country where 2 million is considered respectable) and won five Goyas, as well as two prizes in Cannes (for script and ensemble cast) and numerous international awards (mostly as "best foreign film") in Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and Canada. It was also a return to his homeland, La Mancha (since 1995's La flor de mi secreto [ Flower of My Secret ]), and the first time after Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 1988) that he worked with his former favorite actress Carmen Maura.The story focuses on Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Sole (Lola Dueñas), two sisters from a Spanish village who move to Madrid in the wake of a tragedy: their father was killed in a fire and their mother (Maura) also disappeared under strange circumstances. But there are rumors that she is back among the living, which are confirmed when she appears in Sole's house (which she uses as an illegal hairdressing salon). Meantime, Raimunda, a strong, resourceful woman with a teenage daughter who married an uncaring chauvinist man, has a secret to protect: returning home one day she finds her husband killed accidentally while his daughter was fending him off after he attempted to rape her. Typically for Almodovar, these women are observed sympathetically, and there is a relish in their rituals and emotions. Before the reconciliation between Raimunda and her mother takes place and secrets are brought into the open, we have sequences of bonding, arguing, some songs, and a bit of suspense. The combination was as superbly crafted as it was shamelessly commercial: entertainment, visual flair, and emotion were more important than narrative or logical concerns, and the actresses were, as always, a joy to watch.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.