(12-26-09) Greetings again from the darkness. I have no qualms in admitting that I worship Pedro Almodovar as a filmmaker. His films have made me laugh (Volver), think (Talk to Her) and have yanked me out of my comfort zone (Bad Education). With Broken Embraces, the maestro has so many nuances and details brewing below his always stunning surface that I found myself really working to assemble the pieces as the film went along.

His fabulous muse, Penelope Cruz, is back and in full splendor. Pedro has always had a talent for exciting and fully developed female characters and here, both Ms. Cruz and Blanca Portillo are absolutely fascinating. The male lead is Mateo, a film director played by Lluis Homar (Bad Education). I won’t try to simplify the multi-faceted relationship and story lines other than to say this is a touch noir, with revenge, jealousy, obsession and of course, love – both full display and unrequited.

Sadly, many Americans will skip this one because of subtitles, but I hope it finds an audience on DVD. From a visual perspective, the color red abounds here … passion or blood? That’s the big question. There are many wonderful scenes that feature beautiful shots from Pedro, as well as some of the best dialogue he has ever written. From a film-making perspective, this one deserves multiple viewings – and will get it from me!

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