• James Rutherford

'Volver': The Farcical and Heartfelt Tale of a Departed Matriarch's Return to her Beloved Daughters


Movie poster for the Spanish film Pedro Almodóvar's Volver starring Penélope Cruz

Volver (2006) is a heartfelt and affecting Spanish drama centered on two sisters, Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Sole (Lola Dueñas), residing in Madrid while continuing to mourn the death of their mother 3 years earlier. When Sole returns to their rural childhood village for the funeral of a distant relative, she unknowingly transports the ghost of her mother Irene (Carmen Maura) back to her home in Madrid.


Meanwhile, Raimunda is caught up in dire circumstances between her own daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) and Paula's father Paco (Antonio de la Torre) that ends in outright calamity. As Irene reveals herself to each of her family members, Raimunda remains distant due to her ongoing distractions as well as unresolved resentment toward her mother. When family friend Agustina (Blanca Portillo) falls ill and seeks medical care in Madrid, she begins to divulge to both sisters shocking truths of their mother's past affairs—confessions that expose astonishing and unforeseen familial history.


Written and directed by acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, The Skin I Live In), Volver is a striking composite of human drama and playful farce, delivered in Almodóvar's trademark whimsical manner. Touching on matters ranging from death and sickness to murder and betrayal, he somehow manages to create a surprisingly buoyant depiction of female empowerment and the eternal binds of love. Wildly transgressive at times while imbued with a stirring air of joie de vivre, it's a remarkable and uncommon cinematic escapade.

 

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