review: In the winter of 2015 in Madrid, a beautiful woman in her late thirties, Janice (Penelope Cruz), will take a photo with the famous forensic archaeologist Arturo (Israel Eleharde). They connect instantly and end up in bed with an equation that does not have a mutually agreed string attached. Janice also asked him to help excavate a mass grave in her hometown where people were killed and buried during the Spanish Civil War. Soon, Janice became pregnant and she decided to have a baby and raise a child as a single mother. At her hospital, she met a young teenager Anna (Milena Smit). That pregnancy is also a coincidence. Their situation is similar, but their thinking cannot be further diversified. Janice looks forward to raising her child alone, but Anna isn’t ready to become a mother yet.
Famous filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar uses this contrast to lay the foundation for his story, which slowly unravels the twist in a very realistic way. In his trademark style, Almodóvar drives his story through the nuances of human nature and relationships, especially his female characters who evolve beautifully in the course of the film. Storytelling is a character that depicts people with real flaws and is not loose and complicated. The quiet environment of his native Spain complements subjects that do not require unnecessary frills or drama to connect with the audience. It’s a niche, but it’s relevant.
Penelope Cruz shines and shines in a role that seems to be written just for her, but provides stunningly restrained performance. It’s hard to take her eyes off her because she makes difficult choices for Janice. Cruz does it so easily and is happy to see her play exactly on her mother’s tongue. As a rebellious teenager, Milena Smit holds her own opposition Cruz. She evolves into her mother, even though she is anxious to live her life on her own terms. Aitana Sánchez-Gijón is adorable as Anna’s ambitious mother who knows well how her career orientation makes her child pay. Israel Eleharde is perfectly cast as a compassionate and compassionate Arturo.
In such a story, there is no villain. Only real people are in a situation where they are forced to make difficult choices. I often ask myself, “What would I do if I were on behalf of him / her?” There is only an answer, no right or wrong. Almodóvar seems to give his audience that space to ponder. He’s packed with another subplot of the history of those killed in the civil war, which looks a bit of a distraction, but thankfully it’s limited to the climax.
The strength of this artistic film lies in its powerful performance and real character. Almodóvar offers a tragic drama about love, life, and a relationship with pop of color that never slips into the dark pits of despair.