Almodóvar ditches gender-bending, drug-abusing anarchy for a more sober meditation on the importance of family. Newsreader Rebecca (Abril) is obsessed by her glamorous pop singer mother (Paredes), who left her as a child. The reunion after 15 years is difficult, not least because Rebecca has married her mother's old boyfriend; and when he is murdered, suspicion alights on them both. The performances are superb, with a raw emotion that is uncomfortably voyeuristic to watch; and the central scene, around which the rest of the film was constructed, is an astonishing tragic-comic tour de force: Rebecca broadcasts the latest news on the murder of her own husband, then almost breaks down as she shows snapshots of ordinary household objects. It's sad and funny, but like the rest of the film, mostly sad. And therein lies the problem: the overwrought, almost physical love/hate relationship between the two women never quite rings true, and Almodóvar has crossed the thin comedic line that separated Law of Desire and Matador from cloying melodrama. You come out bruised, thoughtful, but unredeemed.
Cast and crew
Pedro Díez del Corral