Film4: Sunday 25 October, 1.25am
It’s tradition in La Mancha. The women tend their own graves, already purchased. And the widows tend their husbands’ graves, already dead. Although Penélope Cruz’s parents died in a fire some years before, her dotty old aunt claims that she’s seen Penélope’s mum. Is Carmen Maura really a phantom? A ghost in hiding, attempted rape, murder, incest and cancer – Spanish master Pedro Almodóvar slips it all into a story that glides by as naturally as life itself.
Little complications that must be dealt with – like the disposal of a body. One damn thing after another. And so many memories. Using more red than even Dario Argento dares, and despite all the dark events, Almodóvar has made a bright, optimistic film that is above all another celebration of great actresses: All About Mothers and Daughters.
Volver means ‘to return’ and Almodóvar has returned to his roots for a vibrant film based on memories of growing up surrounded by the women who visited his mother’s hairdressing shop. No Steel Magnolias for him. What an artist he is, spinning his sublimely cinematic melodramas with warmth and wit, with passion and perception, drawing wonderfully natural performances from his actors. Who are mainly women. They might be crazy, but they’re not neurotic. They just get on with it.