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Broken Embraces


Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Pedro Almodovar 
Starring: Penelope Cruz, Lluís Homar, Blanca Portillo  
An image from Broken Embraces

Harry Caine (Lluís Homar) is a writer living with his personal assistant and her adult son after being blinded years earlier in a car accident. But Harry Caine was once Mateo Blanca, and the death of an old acquaintance triggers a chain of events which drags him back into the past he had tried to escape: into memories of his lost love, aspiring actress Lena (Penelope Cruz), and the tragic accident which robbed him of his sight.

The sixteenth film by the acclaimed Spanish director of Volver and All About My Mother, Broken Embraces reunites Pedro Almodóvar with Volver star Penelope Cruz for his most ambitious and complex work to date. Taking the theme of fragmented identities to new levels, Broken Embraces is a twisting modern film noir which effectively splits its narrative between present-day Madrid and flashbacks to the early nineties which chart Lena and Mateo’s passionate and ill-fated affair after meeting during the making of a film. As past and present are elegantly interwoven, the shifting identities and relationships of its characters spark jealousy, suspicion, and tragedy, much of it self-reflexively played out in front of cameras.

At the heart of this well-crafted meditation on passion, identity and cinema is Cruz’s mesmerizingly brilliant performance as the nebulous and enigmatic Lena. Cruz is at her very best under Almodóvar’s experienced direction, and the shifting identities of Lena are exquisitely expressed through some truly brilliant cinematography in a way that hypnotizes on the big screen Sensuous, sleek, sophisticated and slick, Broken Embraces is a truly captivating undertaking from Cruz and Almodóvar, and a real treat for fans of cinema.

David Gorman

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)