Pedro World is a perfect haven, a warm cave filled with invention, brilliance, constant emotional intrigue, suspense, and exactitude. It’s a place to hang, a place of assurance that always mesmerizes and delights and makes you feel well taken care of, like you’re staying in some $2000-a-night hotel in some tranquil valley.
I’m not saying that the pleasures of the films by Pedro Almodovar are better because they’re less gnarly or challenging or easy-to-figure than the creations of Park Chan-Wook, Andrea Arnold, Gaspar Noe or Jacques Audiard. I’m saying that Almodovar is a master director-shaman who always knows exactly what he’s doing and how to work it…and I mean precisely. So much so that even his not-quite-great films, like Broken Embraces, are still exquisite gourmet meals.
Which is why earlier today I said that Broken Dreams is “easily the most fully realized, thematically satisfying, self-assured and purely entertaining film of the festival so far. Not as fully emotional as Almodovar’s best films, but on a very high station in the second tier. Way in front of anything I’ve seen so far.”
Partly a romantric noir, partly a tragedy about playing around, largely about creative creation and holding to a vision and putting things right in the end, the story spans some 16 years (set in ’08, flashing back to ’92 and ’94). It focused on a film director (Luis Homar) who’s lost the love of his life (Penelope Cruz) as well as his eyesight to a jealous lover, and how after much revelation achieves a kind of satisfaction in the end. I’ll say no more except that it’s a profound and enriching finish all around.
What’s not quite 100% about it? The who-did-what, what’s-happening-next? and what-really-happened-14-years-ago? element seems to slightly dilute or compromise the emotionality.
But the pleasures of simply appreciating the craft in Broken Embraces aren’t messed with in the slightest. The way Almodovar’s multi-layered and multi-toned story is so expertly written (by himself), performed by Cruz and Homar and everyone on down, woven together by editor Jose Salcedo and shot by Rodrigo Prieto, etc. I didn’t want it to end. It just won’t stop caressing and knocking you out. I could easily watch it again right now.
I could catch at the Salle du Soixentieme tomorrow, for instance, but I won’t since Wednesday is my final festival day with Inglourious Basterds starting things off at 8:30 am and finishing with Michael Haneke‘s The White Ribbon and Sam Raimi‘s Drag Me To Hell. Plus the usual filing and running around and packing.