Almadovar's Return to the Maternal Breast

According to Vincent Dreary, Almadovar, one of my favorite feminist film-makers, has returned to his roots, making films about women, with his latest print, Volver. Although his vision of women’s labor, women’s drama, feminine sexuality and matronly death is overtly romantic and theatrically tragic-comic, it is still a less male centered universe when compared to most films in wide release. I'll take a shamelessly warped view of femininity over a stereotypically dull Hollywood gaze any noche.

“…Almodóvar has, after two uneasy films about men, returned with palpable relief to the world of women. He has said of it: “This film is my deepest return to my origins . . . I was brought up by women, the men whom I practically never saw being in the fields”. It is also a geographical return to his native La Mancha, and to the mores and rituals of village life.

The opening scene is one of vigorous feminine labour, a group of unsentimental Spanish village women cleaning, brushing and polishing. The objects of their domestic attentions are graves, setting the tone for a film in which women and women’s work are portrayed as imperturbable forces, dealing even-handedly with the comedies and tragedies of life and death.”
“Penelope Cruz, in particular, is remarkable, evoking the presence and look of Anna Magnani or Sophia Loren, their combination of earthiness and fire. And the film is full of colour, full of images of food and drink, their preparation, sharing and consumption; full of the textures and patterns, music and rhythms that enrich the home. This is the world of women as sensual nourishment – Almodóvar has even described it as a return to the maternal breast – where women weave the social matrix, while men are either absent or are trying to disrupt it for their own ends. But even this violence is woven back into the fabric of society to be contained by the hands of women.”

[Vincent Dreary, Times Literary Supplement, via Scott]

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