No one directs women like Pedro Almodovar. In Volver, men are almost superfluous, yet this is no “chick flick.” Channelling the young Sophia Loren (with fortified cleavage), Penélope Cruz delivers the performance of her career as a mom from La Mancha who covers up a husband’s murder and meets her mother coming back from the dead. Volver, which takes the Spanish director back to his austere, rural homeland, lacks his trademark touches—no transsexuals, no flamboyant colours. But even muted, Almodovar has more emotional force than most of what passes for drama these days.
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