Volver—Sony Pictures

Video: 3
Audio: 3
Extras: 4

Acclaimed Spanish director and art-house fave Pedro Almodvar adores women—all women—and once again celebrates the female in his latest offering, Volver, a stylish comedy/noir that poignantly unravels the emotional complexities of womanhood.

Volver (“to come back”) is a convoluted tale that melds the old ways of Spain with the new. The film weaves threads of superstition and intrigue, including one about Irene, a dead mother who comes back seeking redemption for her sins by helping the women close to her cope with some of life’s tragic moments: death, deception, and abuse. Almodvar’s darling, Penlope Cruz (nominated for Best Actress at the 2007 Oscars), is at her best, playing one of Irene’s daughters, Raimunda, a voluptuous, fiery, and resourceful working-class mom who has many of her own secrets, including a dead body in the freezer! Will her mother’s ghost rescue Raimunda?

Disappointingly, the 2.35.1 anamorphic transfer is adequate but not stunning, exhibiting softness throughout. The cinematography is luscious, saturated with red and other punchy hues that reflect the intensity of Spanish culture. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish soundtrack employs subtle use of the surrounds and features an impressionistic score by Alberto Iglesias. Easy-to-read yellow subtitles fly by quickly, inviting a second viewing to reveal the artistic nuances that you might otherwise miss. Extras include heartfelt reflections by Almodvar and the actors through interviews, commentary, and a behind-the-scenes montage.

Volver is an homage to vintage European cinema as evident in Cruz’s irresistible channeling of Sophia Loren. Treat yourself to a night out on Almodvar. Viva Volver!