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Broken Embraces (2009)

Los abrazos rotos (original title)
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Harry Caine, a blind writer, reaches this moment in time when he has to heal his wounds from 14 years back. He was then still known by his real name, Mateo Blanco, and directing his last movie.

Director:

Pedro Almodóvar
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 9 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Penélope Cruz ... Lena
Lluís Homar ... Mateo Blanco / Harry Caine
Blanca Portillo ... Judit García
José Luis Gómez ... Ernesto Martel
Rubén Ochandiano ... Ray X
Tamar Novas ... Diego
Ángela Molina ... Madre de Lena
Chus Lampreave ... Portera
Kiti Mánver ... Madame Mylene
Lola Dueñas ... Lectora de labios
Mariola Fuentes ... Edurne
Carmen Machi ... Chon
Kira Miró ... Modelo
Rossy de Palma ... Julieta
Alejo Sauras ... Álex
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, language and some drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Spain

Language:

Spanish | English

Release Date:

15 January 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Broken Hugs See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$107,111, 22 November 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,014,305

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$30,991,660
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

During the 1994 storyline, after Mateo is released from the hospital Judit drops him off at the beach with her son Diego. As they exit the vehicle a crew member can be seen reflected in the rear panel of the car. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[in Spanish, quoting English subtitles]
Modelo: What's your name?
Mateo Blanco: Harry Caine.
[voiceover]
Mateo Blanco: 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 ...
See more »

Connections

References Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Werewolf
Performed by Cat Power
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User Reviews

 
Almodovar's embrace with cinema
21 November 2009 | by MaxBorg89See all my reviews

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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