PJ and I finally saw Pedro Almodóvar‘s Volver, starring Penélope Cruz. Here’s the trailer:

Volver is about three generations of women. Raimunda, played by Cruz, lives in Madrid with her drunk and lazy husband and their daughter, Paula, played by Yohana Cobo. After their aunt dies, Raimunda’s sister, Sole, played by Lola Dueñas, miraculously encounters their mother, who died in a fire along with their father when the two sisters were children. After a violent act disrupts Raimunda’s marriage, she takes over a nearby diner and slowly begins to learn the truth about what really happened to her parents years before.

While this description sounds like a murder mystery, that’s actually not what the film is about. It’s really about Raimunda’s learning to take care of her own daughter in ways that her mother was never able to care for her. She must comes to terms with the past while simultaneously saving her daughter’s future.

At first, I thought Cruz was horribly miscast in this film. Her acting style seemed to be from a different movie than all of the other actors. But after a while, either I got used to what she was doing or she became a better actress, because by the midway point of the film I was solidly on her side. And by the end, I thought she had done a great job, certainly one worthy of her Oscar nomination this year.

PJ and I went to Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, and Sitges) two summers ago. Ever since, I’ve been a sucker for just about anything Spanish. Clearly I was meant by the fates to live in Spain and eat paella everyday. Volver doesn’t really remind me much of our trip, but just knowing that it’s taking place in Spain makes my heart beat a little faster for it.

Until we get a chance to go back, I’ll just have to keep watching Spanish movies. I was a little underwhelmed by Bad Education, but I think I need to see it again to decide for sure what I thought of it. Volver isn’t the best film set in Spain I’ve seen lately (Pan’s Labyrinth is), but it’s certainly enjoyable, though the scene in which Penelope Cruz is supposed to be singing but is clearly lip syncing and over-emoting is truly laughable. Other than that, however, I thought it was a good film about what wives and mothers should do to protect their children from heterosexual men, who are apparently all dogs, so to speak.