Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The Ten Movies That Defined My Decade.
2. Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006)
A ghost story where the worst demons are regrets, a bittersweet homage to Italian Neorrealism by way of Magnani and Loren, a referential love song to the movies (but then again what Almodóvar isn't?), a colorful rehash of "Mildred Pierce", one of the most heartbreaking portrayals of motherhood of all time, a delicious melodrama...
Few things during the last decade gave me as much pure cinematic delight as "Volver".
The movie may thrive with movie-ness, but it's also an emotional powerhouse. The first time I saw it all I wanted to do after the show was over was to go outside, call my mom and tell her how much I missed her.
It's unusual for me to have such a strong emotional response to anything and this unexpected outburst of melancholy made me want to revisit "Volver" to see what was its mystery.
I've seen it more than ten times after that (it's one of those movies I pop in the DVD when I've nothing else to do) and still haven't been able to figure out how Pedro embedded all this passion into it.
The movie lingers dangerously between the sublime and the ridiculous, with its twists becoming preposterous to some and perfection incarnate to others.
Some people find the denouement laughable while it movies me to tears.
But more than my actual devotion to this movie (which could easily swap places for number one depending on my mood) this also provided me with two of my other obsessions of the decade.
First it introduced me to what then became my favorite band: Saint Etienne. You really got to leave it to Pedro to choose just the right piece of music for the perfect scene and create magic that will haunt you after you leave the theater.
And it also started my infatuation with Penélope Cruz. Those of you who don't believe in second chances, this woman was at the bottom of my actresses list (the jokes I made about her movies...) and in two hours she became a revelation. I have seen few performance with the kind of earthiness, sincerity and star charisma Penélope has in this one.
It's good that she's made a case out of doing great things after this, I hope she won't ever go back to things like "Bandidas".
Now back to "Volver" I was also surprised by how it marked an evolution in Almodóvar's work. This is the first movie of his' where emotions and references go hand in hand, one doesn't overshadow the other. He was the only director this decade who consistently delivered a better movie each time. As much as I loved "Talk to Her" then came "Bad Education" and just blew me away. When "Volver" came I was in heaven.
Dammit, now I have the sudden urge to go see it...