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Reviewed on 2010-01-15
Received[3.5]  out of 4 stars
GenreDrama / Romance / Thriller
The unbeatable Oscar-winning combination of legendary Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar (“Volver” and “Talk to Her”) and international superstar beauty Penelope Cruz (“Nine,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Volver”) makes this lavishly mounted melodrama a cinematic gem.

Harry Caine (Lluis Homar from “Bad Education”), a blind screenwriter, reveals through flashbacks the events leading up to an auto accident that took his sight and the love of his life. He is aided in the present day by his faithful agent and former production manager, Judit Garcia, and her only son, Diego, who is his secretary, typist and guide in a world of darkness.

Caine used to be known as famous director Mateo Blanco. His last movie made 14 years ago, titled “Girls and Suitcases,” was financed by ruthless industrialist Ernesto Martel (Jose Luis Gomez) and starred Martel’s mistress Lena (Cruz). A romantic triangle was formed when Blanco fell in love with his leading lady. This triggered an obsessive jealousy in Martel.

Martel employed his gay son, Ernesto Jr., to constantly follow and videotape Blanco and Lena under the guise of a “making of” documentary. Instead, Martel used the footage as a surveillance tool. He even hired a lip reader to decipher the conversations.

Almodovar is a superb storyteller with a fascination for sex. He shows a love of movies throughout the screenplay. He deftly blends humor with suspenseful Hitchcockian overtones. The major themes are survivor guilt, betrayal, treachery and abuse of power. A series of revelations catch the viewer off guard at the film’s culmination.

Cruz is fabulous in this bold and daring role where she bares all. Her very expressive eyes and distinctive body language make this an acting tour de force. She wears beautiful outfits and shows off a variety of hairstyles.

The unobtrusive musical score from composer Alberto Iglesisas is played in the background only at opportune times. The cinematography is another sparkling strength of this production. The best advice is to let the story wash over you like refreshing waves from the ocean. The viewing experience will be even more special if you go in knowing as little as possible about the film’s structure and screenplay.

A lasting image that stays with you after the curtain goes down is of the many photos of the embracing lovers torn into several pieces.

Even though not named as Spain’s official Academy Awards submission, the movie has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by the Golden Globes, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. The dialogue is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Now showing exclusively at AMC Studio 30, Rio and Tivoli in Westport.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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