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Running Time:
2 hours

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for some sexual content and language.

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Penelope Cruz has never been more radiant and funny in this wonderfully entertaining comedy/drama.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Commentary with director Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz; The Making of Volver; Director and cast interviews

Raimunda (Penélope Cruz "All About My Mother") is a young mother in Madrid. She's hard working and very attractive, with an unemployed husband and an adolescent daughter (Yohana Cobo, "The 7th Day"). The family finances are very shaky, so Raimunda works several jobs. Although she is a very strong woman, she's also very fragile emotionally. She has kept a terrible secret to herself since childhood.

Her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas, "Talk to Her") is a little older. Timid and fearful, she makes her living running a hair salon. Paula (Chus Lampreave "Talk to Her") is their aunt who lives in a village in La Mancha where the whole family was born. The village is known to have a high rate of insanity caused by the east winds that sweep through. That wind is also responsible for the many fires that devastate the area every summer. The parents of Sole and Raimunda died in one of those fires.

One Sunday in spring, Sole calls Raimunda to tell her that their neighbour in the village, Augustina (Blanca Portillo "The Color of the Clouds") has phoned to tell them that their Aunt Paula has died. Raimunda adored her aunt, but she can’t go to the funeral because moments before getting the call from her sister, when she had just come back from one of her jobs, she had found her husband dead in the kitchen, with a knife stuck in his chest. Her daughter confesses that she killed him because he had got drunk and was making sexual advances to her. Bent on finding a way to save her daughter, Raimunda refuses to go to their aunt's funeral in La Mancha. Sole reluctantly goes back to the village alone.

At the wake she hears rumours that her mother, who perished in a fire with her father, had returned from the other world to look after Aunt Paula when she was ill. The women talk quite naturally about the mother's "ghost". When Sole returns to Madrid, after parking her car, she hears noises coming from the trunk. A voice calls to her to open it and let her out, and it tells her that she’s her mother. Terrified at first, Sole opens the trunk and discovers that it is her mother (Carmen Maura, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"), surrounded by luggage. She doesn't dare even look at her, but when she manages to overcome her fear she sees that the "ghost" looks just like her mother, except that her hair has become almost white. She takes her in to her apartment, and asks her how long she is going to stay. For as long as God wills, she answers.

Sole has no choice but to accept her mother and even dies her hair and gives her some work in the work in her hair salon. She introduces her to her clients as a Russian woman she took in off the street, out of charity. The mother doesn’t speak when the clients are in the shop, she just washes their hair, listens and smiles. Sole doesn't dare tell her sister about her secret and Raimunda, with a secret of her own, tells Sole that her husband Paco has left her and that she has a feeling he won't be back. Raimunda realizes that she has to get rid of the body, but she can't find the right moment because she has a new job that pays well and keeps her too busy. Each sister attempts to resolve their problems by telling numerous lies, which seem to work, for a while.

Director Pedro Almodóvar ("Talk To Her") has returned to his childhood home of La Mancha to film this suspenseful, clever, lighthearted, and always emotionally resonant film with a glorious production design that is bright and splashy without being garish. He's also made inventive use of his La Mancha locations, using its famous wind farms as a symbol of madness, just as in Don Quixote's famous La Mancha quest. Although outrageous things happen, and horrific events occur, Almodovar saves his energy and storytelling skills to present an entertaining and emotional tale of women's survival. It's one of the year's best.

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