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Broken Embraces
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Broken Embraces

3.7 4
Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Cast: Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Lluís Homar


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A follow-up to Spanish enfant terrible Pedro Almodóvar's 2006 arthouse sensation Volver, Los Abrazos Rotos finds the filmmaker re-teaming with actress Penélope Cruz and working on a canvas much broader than those of his previous outings, in terms of genres covered, narrative scope, and duration.


A follow-up to Spanish enfant terrible Pedro Almodóvar's 2006 arthouse sensation Volver, Los Abrazos Rotos finds the filmmaker re-teaming with actress Penélope Cruz and working on a canvas much broader than those of his previous outings, in terms of genres covered, narrative scope, and duration. Lluís Homar stars as the former Mateo Blanco, a screenwriter and ex-director who changed his name to Harry Caine after losing his sight in an automobile accident. A past scandal suddenly resurfaces when the news arrives that the producer of one of Harry's old movies ("Girls and Suitcases"), a corrupt stockbroker named Ernesto Martel (José Luis Gómez), has died. For mysterious reasons, this makes Harry's ex-production manager Judit (Blanca Portillo) nervous; then Ernesto's son, Ray X (Rubén Ochandiano), turns up and asks Harry to help him write a vindictive script to get back at his vile father. The film subsequently flashes back to the early '90s, when Martel became involved with his secretary, Lena (Cruz), but Mateo also began to develop feelings for her, and auditioned her for "Girls and Suitcases." In response to Mateo's interest in Lena (and her burgeoning interest in him), the jealous Martel commissioned Ray to make a documentary about the making of "Girls and Suitcases" as an excuse to spy on the director and star. This enabled him to watch Mateo spiriting off with Lena right under his nose, and set the stage for the wily producer's elaborate revenge against Mateo. As this synopsis suggests, Almodóvar uses a tricky structure laden with flashbacks to both comment on and explain the events of the present; he also interweaves a noirish sensibility throughout the picture that marks something of a first for this director.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Pedro Almodóvar has never been afraid of playing with timelines, and his ability to articulate how the past holds sway over the present infuses his work with a noir-like sensibility. Broken Embraces not only continues this exploration of guilt, and how it weighs on relationships, but also feels more personal than many of his other works. The intricate story concerns a blind former film director named Mateo, who now goes by the name Harry Caine (Lluís Homar), the pseudonym he used on all his screenplays. Harry still makes his living as a screenwriter, and gets help in his day-to-day and business affairs from his loyal friend and longtime collaborator Judit (Blanca Portillo), as well as her son, Diego (Tamar Novas). One day, Harry learns that successful businessman Ernesto Martel (José Luis Gómez) has died. Not long after that, a young man named Ray X meets with Harry to pitch a script about a son who gets revenge on the memory of his father. Harry passes on the job offer, but quickly pieces together that Ray X is, in fact, Ernesto's son. This leads to Harry sharing with Diego the tragic story about his final movie, a shoot that grew complicated because of a love triangle between Harry, Ernesto (who produced the film), and Ernesto's mistress Lena (Penélope Cruz) that led to life-changing decisions for everyone involved. The actual series of events that led to Harry's blindness are laid out with such fiendish ingeniousness that it would be unfair to spoil how adroitly Almodóvar handles his narrative. He cooks up a melodramatic tale that is equal parts Paul Auster meta-narrative and James M. Cain noir, but he stays clear of soap opera territory thanks in part to first-rate performances. Homar embodies an artist's restless desire to live life to the fullest, even when he can't see; Gómez could turn his antagonist into a moustache-twirling baddie, but instead he lets his intensity come out in frightening dead-eyed stares; and Cruz is able to be disarmingly sexy and in emotional turmoil at the same time -- something that has made her the key onscreen collaborator for Almodóvar throughout the second half of his career. Almodóvar fills the movie with his typically gorgeous cinematography, and he's still unafraid to tackle highly emotional situations and characters -- like the flamboyantly gay son trying to win his father's approval -- without letting them devolve into camp. He's perfected a visual style that borrows equally from Douglas Sirk and Alfred Hitchcock, but he's synthesized them into a filmmaking approach that's entirely his own. While this is all comfortably familiar for an Almodóvar film, what sets Broken Embraces apart from his other movies are the unavoidable biographical aspects. Not only is the hero a director, but he name-checks such classics as Peeping Tom, Louis Malle's Les Amants, and most tellingly, Fellini's 8 1/2. The modern Spanish master is doing more than paying simple lip service to the artists and works that inspire him; he makes Broken Embraces a statement about what drives him to continue making movies as he gets older.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Deleted Scenes; Pedro Directs Penélope; Variety Q&A with Penélope Cruz; "The Cannibalistic Councillor" a short film by Pedro Almodóvar; On the Red Carpet: The New York Film Festival Closing Night

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Penélope Cruz Lena
Blanca Portillo Judit
Lluís Homar Mateo y Harry Caine
José Luis Gómez Ernesto Martel
Ruben Ochandiano Ray X
Tamar Novas Diego
Ángela Molina Madre de Lena
Chus Lampreave Portera
Kiti Manver Madame Mylene
Lola Dueñas Lectora de Labios
Mariola Fuentes Edurne
Carmen Machi Chon
Kira Miro Modelo
Alejo Sauras Alex
Rossy de Palma Julieta

Technical Credits
Pedro Almodóvar Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Agustín Almodóvar Executive Producer
Guillermo Escribano Asst. Director
Esther Garcia Producer
Antxon Gomez Art Director
Sonia Grande Costumes/Costume Designer
Pelayo Gutierrez Sound Editor
Alberto Iglesias Score Composer
Victor Molero Art Director
Luis San Narciso Casting
Toni Novella Production Manager
Marc Orts Sound/Sound Designer
Rodrigo Prieto Cinematographer
Miguel Rejas Sound/Sound Designer
José Salcedo Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Broken Embraces
1. Scene 1 [8:15]
2. Scene 2 [2:42]
3. Scene 3 [3:55]
4. Scene 4 [2:19]
5. Scene 5 [4:18]
6. Scene 6 [6:57]
7. Scene 7 [3:45]
8. Scene 8 [6:45]
9. Scene 9 [3:53]
10. Scene 10 [2:42]
11. Scene 11 [4:45]
12. Scene 12 [3:31]
13. Scene 13 [5:00]
14. Scene 14 [3:48]
15. Scene 15 [3:17]
16. Scene 16 [4:58]
17. Scene 17 [4:15]
18. Scene 18 [3:06]
19. Scene 19 [5:30]
20. Scene 20 [2:44]
21. Scene 21 [4:44]
22. Scene 22 [3:24]
23. Scene 23 [:02]
24. Scene 24 [4:43]
25. Scene 25 [7:09]
26. Scene 26 [6:14]
27. Scene 27 [3:10]
28. Scene 28 [5:11]


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Broken Embraces 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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