British couple Fiona and Nigel Dobson are sailing to Istanbul en route to India. They encounter a beautiful French woman, and that night Nigel meets her while dancing alone in the ship's ... See full summary »
Kristin Scott Thomas,
In the Yorkshire countryside, working-class tomboy Mona meets the exotic, pampered Tamsin. Over the summer season, the two young women discover they have much to teach one another, and much to explore together.
When a disgraced former college professor has a romance with a mysterious younger woman haunted by her dark twisted past, he is forced to confront a shocking secret about his own life that he has kept secret for 50 years.
Passion, obsession, wealth, jealousy, family, guilt, and creativity. In Madrid, Harry Caine is a blind screenwriter, assisted by Judit and her son Diego. The past comes rushing in when Harry learns of the death of Ernesto Martel, a wealthy businessman, and Ernesto's son pays Harry a visit. In a series of flashbacks to the 1990s, we see Harry, who was then Mateo Blanco, a director; he falls in love with Ernesto's mistress, Lena, and casts her in a film, which Ernesto finances. Ernesto is jealous and obsessive, sending his son to film the making of the movie, to follow Lena and Mateo, and to give him the daily footage. Judit doesn't like Lena. It's a collision course. Written by
The photograph featured in the film of Harry and Lena embracing on Golfo Beach in Lanzarote has its roots in a real life photograph Pedro Almodóvar took of Golfo Beach whilst there in 2000. When he had the photograph developed, the director saw at the bottom of the photo a couple he hadn't noticed on the day embracing. "I felt that the couple hid a secret", he said later. "The whole island was holding a secret. I had to unveil that secret." See more »
Mateo's wristwatch has the crystal intact. A blind person's watch would have the crystal removed, so that (s)he could tell time by feeling the position of the hands. See more »
[in Spanish, quoting English subtitles]
What's your name?
I used to be called Mateo and I was a film director. I was always tempted by the idea of being someone else, as well as myself. Living one's life wasn't enough, so I invented a pseudonym, Harry Caine, an adventurer who, as fate would have it, became a writer. I had him sign all the scripts and stories I wrote. For years, Mateo Blanco and Harry Caine shared the same body, mine. But a moment came when ...
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There's never been any doubt about Pedro Almodovar's unquestioned, unstoppable love for all things cinema, a fact that pops up frequently in his body of work, most notably the autobiographical Bad Education. Like that intrigue-heavy melodrama, Broken Embraces was shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, with many critics and bookmakers speculating about the director finally winning the Palme d'Or after many unsuccessful attempts (the closest he came, apparently, was with the stunning Volver). Of course, the movie received zero awards (with the top prize going to Michael Haneke, another "perennial loser" so to speak) and left many people who saw it indifferent. The reason? Almodovar keeps making the exact same films year after year.
The "hero" of Broken Embraces is a Spanish screenwriter (Lluis Homar, who played the older priest in Bad Education) who calls himself Harry Caine (a mixture of fictional character Harry Palmer and the actor playing him, Michael Caine, or possibly a play on how Italians and Spaniards phonetically pronounce the English word "hurricane"). He's blind, and has gone off on a soul-searching journey to deal with a tragedy that occurred 14 years earlier. As the mystery surrounding his past unravels, flashbacks are used to depict a "happier" time, when he could still see, was known as Mateo Blanco and tried to make his last film, on the set of which he met and fell in love with actress Lena (Penélope Cruz), who unfortunately was involved with another, more powerful man...
It's easy to see why people choose to dislike the film: they're right, there's nothing really original in the screenplay (the "solution" to the mystery is easy to guess), in fact Almodovar seems to be going on autopilot, hitting the melodrama button without bothering to make sure he's doing it the right way. But that doesn't mean he never does a good job: visually, Broken Embraces is as enchanting as Volver, and if there's one thing the director hardly ever gets wrong, it's casting: Penélope Cruz is beautiful and convincingly vulnerable at the same time, Homar elicits enough sympathy as Mateo/Harry, and the "villain" of the piece (José Luis Gomez) is acceptably solid.
As for the self-referential streak in Almodovar's production (there's at least one in-joke in every film), he really hits gold this time, with fake footage of Mateo's lost film coming off as a clever pastiche of earlier hit Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which starred his other muse Carmen Maura. That scene alone justifies watching the film at least once. Broken Embraces may not be vintage Almodovar, but he's worth checking out even when he's "slacking".
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