Screened as part of NZIFF 2009
“Pedro Almodóvar has always managed to combine elegance and exuberance, and his latest movie is no exception: a richly enjoyable piece of work, slick and sleek, with a sensuous feel for the cinematic surfaces of things and, as ever, self-reflexively infatuated with the business of cinema itself... The action of the movie unfolds in two periods: flashing back and forth between the present day and 1994. It is a measure of Almodóvar's absolute technical mastery, and that of his editor José Salcedo, that this is never disconcerting or confusing. Lluís Homar plays Mateo, a former film director who lost his sight in a car crash... Now he writes screenplays under his pen name ‘Harry Caine’... A newspaper obituary of a shady financier, Ernesto Martel, tremendously played by José Luis Gómez, triggers memories of his movie-making career in the 90s: Martel bankrolled Mateo's final movie on condition that his mistress was given the lead.
This of course is Lena, played by Penélope Cruz in a state of almost hyperreal gorgeousness, a sublime beauty in whose presence Almodóvar's camera goes into a kind of swooning trance, and whose exquisiteness consists at least partly in its fabricated quality... The film-within-a-film motif is head-spinningly sophisticated, though the theme of cinema itself within cinema (traditionally rather overrated by cinephiles in terms of interest and importance) is kept fresh and alive through Almodóvar's sheer energy... I defy anybody to watch it without a tingle of pure moviegoing pleasure.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian