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Broken Embraces (2009)

Drama Rated R

Pedro Almodovar reteams with Penelope Cruz, and you have your review right there. Actually, Broken Embraces isn’t quite at the same level as the pair’s Volver, mostly because Almodovar is playing a bunch of meta moviemaking games (as he did in Bad Education). His protagonist is a blind director (Lluis Homar) who recounts the tragic love affair he once had with a call girl turned secretary turned movie star (Cruz). As usual, this is at once intricate and vivacious – Almodovar can still dazzle you even when you’re in a state of confusion. Cruz, meanwhile, continues to make you grateful she never made it big in Hollywood and was shipped back to these shores. Her Lena has a moment when she comes out of the bathroom after a laborious session with a “benefactor” and thinks he may have died in bed. Her face – surprise, relief, slight guilt and amusement all briefly flicker – is an acting class in itself, and a treasure.