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It is very nice to see these people again, even though I could not for the life of me remember where actually I know them from. Reading it up does not help, either: Penelope Cruz (according to my friend Franco the most beautiful woman in the world, having replaced Julianne Moore and Gina Lolobrigida or however she spells her name in this capacity)’s last film I saw was "Todo sobre mi madre (", which I hated, and the only one before was "Carne Tremula (", which I liked, but maybe for the wrong reasons, if you know what I mean.  Carmen maura, on the other hand, had some excellent movies in the 80s (with Almodovar, of course), and looks as if she had always been there to play well. Ms Cruz is actually not just incrompehensibly pretty (beautiful may be the more appropriate word, indeed), but she acts with natural casualness, doing away with dead men, kitchen chores and family ghosts with equal vigour. It’s not her who makes the film a bit… hmmm… dull? It is the maybe too-well established system of Almodovar’s world, the mixture of women on the verge of… sorry. But indeed, they are all excited about just about everything from ghosts to the sweet stuff they brought home from family holiday.

Films tend to lose my sympathy when others figure out the ending before I do (which happens all too often). It definitely happened here, but with a strange touch to it:

While I expected from the beginning that the ghost was not a ghost, I did not think it mattered at all. I don’t mind ghosts intervening a bit in people’s biographies. That was already an odd feeling, but what was much odder was that when (to me all of a sudden, to my fellow-viewer long-expected) the incest story broke, I mentally shrugged and wondered what to make of this now. Either it was just me being embarassed by not realising it earlier. Or that twist was really so detached from the rest of the story that we could have done without it. Do Almodovar films need plot twists of this magnitude? I don’t think so, these films are doing perfectly well without pseudo-surprise. Leave it to less talented story-tellers of Shamalayan-size, who need to play with it. From Pedro A., I hope for a more intensive and more human story again next time. Even though "Volver" is a pleasant enough watch, it is far from achievements of the "Hable Con Ella" dimension. Still better than many others, of course.

NYT Review:

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