Almodovar directs Cruz again in homage to cinema

Tue May 19, 2009 10:12am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White CANNES, France (Reuters) - Spanish director Pedro Almodovar pays homage to film making and his muse Penelope Cruz in "Broken Embraces" (Los Abrazos Rotos), a movie about a director who has a passionate affair with his leading lady.

The picture, Almodovar's fourth collaboration with Cruz, which is in competition at the Cannes film festival, recalls "films noirs," classic comedies and screen sirens of the past.

It includes a scene from Roberto Rossellini's "Viaggio in Italia" starring Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders, and the film-within-a-film revisits Almodovar's 1988 hit "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown."

"I fully believe that cinema can make life more perfect," the Oscar winner told reporters on Tuesday, after Broken Embraces was warmly applauded at a press screening.

Cruz plays Lena, a secretary who ends up in a relationship with her wealthy boss Ernesto. Also an aspiring actress, she is spotted by the charismatic director Mateo Blanco with whom she quickly falls in love.

When Mateo loses his sight in a car accident, he adopts his pseudonym Harry Caine and reinvents himself completely in order to avoid the painful memories of the past.

Almodovar likened his character's experience to that of his home country, saying Spain rightly buried its past after the end of fascism in the 1970s.

"At that time it was necessary to forget the past. Spain has been a democratic country for over 30 years now ... Things have changed a great deal. The time has come to recover these memories from the past. It is even indispensable to do so."


<p>Director Pedro Almodovar (L) poses with cast member Penelope Cruz during a photocall for the film "Los Abrazos Rotos" at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 19, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>