Pedro Almodovar

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5.5 Pepi, Luci, Bom (1979)
6.0 Labyrinth of Passion (1982)
6.2 Dark Habits (1983)
5.4 What Have I Done to Deserve This (1984)
7.1 Matador (1986)
7.0 Law of Desire (1987)
7.3 Women on The Verge Of Nervous Breakdown (1988)
7.0 Tie Me Up Tie Me Down (1990)
5.2 High Heels (1991)
6.2 Kika (1993)
5.0 The Flower Of My Secret (1995)
7.0 Live Flesh (1997)
7.7 All About My Mother (1999)
7.4 Talk To Her (2002)
7.9 Bad Education (2004)
7.2 Volver (2006)
6.5 Broken Embraces (2009)
7.2 The Skin I Live In (2011)
5.0 I'm So Excited (2013)
6.4 Julieta (2016)
6.9 Pain and Glory (2019)
7.0 Parallel Mothers (2021)

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.

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Pedro Almodovar (Spain, 1949) usci` dall'underground de "La Movida", il movimento artistico-culturale che emerse prepotentemente dopo la caduta della dittatora fascista (1976) a partire dal film Arrebato (1980) di Ivan Zulueta, movimento che portava sullo schermo un edonismo giovanile urbano in violento contrasto con il tradizionale perbenismo cattolico rurale.

Dopo dieci anni trascorsi come impiegato della compagnia telefonica di Madrid, si dà allo spettacolo underground nell'esuberanza liberatoria del post franchismo, con pochi mezzi e molto entusiasmo. Il suo genere favorito è la commedia bizzarra, alla Wilder e Sturges, in cui prende di mira le istituzioni intoccabili della Spagna.

He debuted with screwball comedies such as Pepi, Luci, Bom (1979), Laberinto de Pasiones/ Labyrinth of Passion (1982), and Entre Tinieblas/ Dark Habits (1983), a parody with drugged nuns.

Que he Hecho Para Merecer Esto/ What Have I Done to Deserve This (1984) is a black comedy with grotesque overtones.

Matador (1986) looks like a Brian DePalma thriller on the surface, but it has a number of semiotic undercurrents. It is, first and foremost, some kind of Catholic parable, in which the matador (which means both bullfighter and killer) represents the devil and his pupil represents the Christ willing to die on the cross to redeem all sinners who fell under his influence. The kid takes responsibility for all the killings, for the very existence of sin. The eclipse, just like the comet in the Gospels, can be viewed as an astrological sign of the Passion. Then there is a Freudian theme, bridging the kid's frustrated upbringing under a widowed bigot woman and this kid's submission to the master. This theme doubles into the theme of sex and death, that can be separated only by the innocent supermodel (whose name is Eva, the first woman) and by the psychologist who falls in love with the innocent visionary. Another hyper-psychological leitmotiv has to do with alter-egos and identifications: the pupil treats the master like his master even for killing and raping, and the evil woman has worshipped the matador all her life, both having been seduced indirectly by the matador's charisma to replicate his art of killing in their respective spheres of action. There is also a level at which the film is merely a meditation on and possibly a parody of pornographic and horror cinema as well as on feuilleton (just like DePalma was reflecting on Hitchcock's thrillers). Finally, the film is also a sort of farce on the Catholic sense of guilt. The major drawback is the many implausible gaps in the plot.

A man drowns a woman in a bath tub and then slits her wrists. It is just one of the scenes from horror movies that a middle-aged man, Diego, is watching on his tv set. more and more terrific scenes flow on the tv set. Instead of being terrified, he is aroused and is masturbating. A trainer, Diego lectures his young pupils, aspiring matadores like he used to be, on the art of bullfiguting, on the art of killing. Meanwhile we see the wordless scene of two lovers walking up the stairs to a bedroom. Scenes of the bullfighting alternate with scenes of the wild copulation. Then she pulls her hairpin from her hair and stabs him in the neck.
Diego the trainer/maestro leaves the training ground with his pupils. One of them, Angel, admits he has never had sex to the legendary matador who is instead famous for his sex life and is currently dating a young supermodel. Angel is from a very religious family. Angel is offended when the trainer asks him if he is perchance homosexual, and he vows to prove to him that he is not. Diego's girlfriend happens to be a neighbor of Angel's. Angel goes home and spies while Eva is showering in the apartment across from his. He then stalks her in the dark streets and rapes her against a car. He ejaculates prematurely and then he apologizes to her. She slaps him in the face and walks away but trips in the mud and gets hurt. Seeing blood on her face, Angel faints to the ground while it's beginning to rain.
Angel dines with his widowed mother, a very formal dinner preceded by a prayer. She is upset with him because he hasn't seen a priest in a while, and urges him to go to mass and confess his sins to the priest. The following day they both attend mass in a church, but Angel prefers to walk into the police station to confess his rape. The police fetch Eva from the house against the will of her mother (who seems indifferent to the incident). At the police station Eva's mother tells the police detective that Eva has already been the victim of three attempted rapes. Eva relates how Angel tried to rape her but came prematurely. She refuses to file charges against Angel and leaves. Seeing the picture of a dead man on the detective's desk, Angel starts shivering. Angel confesses that he killed the man because he tried to rape him. The detective shows him another picture and Angel confesses another murder. The detective shows him the files of two female pupils of Diego's who are missing and Angel admits killing them too. Angel resents being assigned a lawyer, the sexy Maria. Angel recognizes her as the woman who killed the men (which means that somehow he could see what was happening in the woman's house while he was in Diego's villa). Maria, in turn, is fascinated with Angel's master, the legendary Diego.
Meanwhile Diego has sex with Eva while she is asleep, begging her to play dead, a simulation of necrophilia. Eva tells Diego that she doesn't believe Angel is capable of killing. When he drops off Eva at her house, for a moment Diego has a vision of Maria instead of Eva (which seems to imply that he has known Maria for a long time and is infatuated with her).
Maria visits Angel's mother, who has repudiated her son. Leaving the house, she notices that Diego is following her. She walks into a movie theater that is showing the last romantic scene of a western melodrama, in which the two lovers die in each other's arms. Diego follows Maria into the men's bathroom. They go to his villa. They discuss Angel but then engage in wild sex. She is about to kill him with the hairpin like the others but he stops her in time and seizes the hairpin. He reminds Maria the golden rule of bullfighting: do not hesitate at the moment of the kill.
Eva is a supermodel and she's about to feature in a fashion show, always under the close supervision of her mother. Diego is also there, and Maria also shows up, dressed in a colorful costume. Maria suddenly runs out and he follows her. She lets him catch her when she is on a bridge, from which she once witnessed a suicide. He tells her that they are both obsessed with death.
Diego is watching the goring of a bullfighter while smoking pot. He is watching the video of when he was gored by a bull. Eva tells him that she has to go two weeks in Japan. He is indifferent. Eva realizes Maria's perverse influence on Diego. Diego stops the video of his goring on the still that shows Maria screaming. He calls Maria but Maria tells him that she doesn't want to see him again. Diego visits her in her office. She points a gun to him, but then threatens to shoot herself if he doesn't leave. Diego sends her the cape that he used as a bullfighter.
Meanwhile the detective searches the training grounds in Diego's villa. He asks Diego if he thinks that Angel could be homosexual. At a mushroom show he tells the female psychologist of the prison that he hopes Angel is innocent. Angel has a nightmare in which he sees Diego kill and rape a girl and then shoots himself, then Diego drowning Maria in a bath tub, Maria licking the blood of one of her victims, another murder... The doctor diagnoses vertigoes for Angel, but it is more than that: Angel can "see" things. The detective found a sharp pin that belonged to Angel and Angel tells Maria that he got it to kill. Angel can't sleep anymore: he can see and hear the murders. (If indeed he can, then he also knows who the killers are). Angel shows Maria how "he" killed one of the girls, and Maria seems excited that he is replaying the act on her. He tells her that the cadavers are in the garden. The detective and the female psychologist are eavesdropping. They all rush to Diego's garden, and Angel correctly points to the spot where the girls are buried. On the way out Angel apologizes to DIego for trying to rape Eva. Angel tells Diego to trust him.
Maria takes Diego to a cabin in the woods. Diego is not afraid of being alone with her, despite knowing that she tried to kill him. She has turned the cabin into a sanctuary of Diego the famous matador. She fell in love with him sence the first time she saw him kill.
The detective discovers that Angel has an alibi for at least one of the murders. The detective doesn't believe in his confessions that are too good to be true. The detective begs in vain her mom to talk to Angel and get the truth out of him. Angel faints when he sees a wounded person. The detective notices that the kid can't stand the sight of blood. His mother confirms it and adds that he's a coward. The detective instead sees this as proof that Angel is innocent: he could not possibly kill someone if he's afraid of blood. The female psychologist hugs him and kisses him in the mouth.
Eva is depressed that Diego is falling under the influence of Maria. She gets dressed in a bright red sexy dress and drives to Diego's villa to pick up her belongings. while she is there, Diego and Maria walk in. Maria tells Diego that Angel will not talk about what he knows. Eva realizes that they are in cahoots, and that they are the killers. (It sounds like Diego is being blackmaled by Maria who wants him). Diego realizes that Eva is there and, after Maria leaves, he confronts her. Eva is convinced that it's all Maria's fault and only wants Diego to come back to her. Diego lets Eva go even if she now knows the truth about the murders. As soon as Eva leaves, he calls Maria and tells her that Eva knows everything. Before Maria can leave her office to meet with Diego, Eva confronts her and threatens her: Eva can destroy her if Maria doesn't leave Diego alone. Maria snobs her and calls her bluff.
The whole town is excited about the eclipse that is about to take place. The female psychologist is chatting with Angel, and falling more and more in love with him. Angel has another vertigo/vision: Maria and Diego are in danger. He sees the house in the woods. Just then a fortune teller reads Diego's hand and is terrified by what she sees. Eva is telling the detective what she heard (that Maria and Diego are the killers) but the detective ignores her (as Maria has predicted). The psychologist takes Angel to the detective, where Angel convinces him that he can really see what is happening to Diego and Maria. The detective, the psychologist, Angel and Eva get into a car, and follow Angel's directions to the cabin in the woods. Maria and Diego are a having a romantic evening at the cabin. Angel in the car can actually hear what they are saying. Their words make Eva burst into tears. The two lovers have decided to kill each other while having an orgasm. She kills him with the hairpin that he finally returned to her, and she then kills herself with the gun. The eclipse takes place just when the four arrive at the cabin and hear the gunshot. They find the two dead bodies, still entangled in the sexual act. The detective says he's never seen anybody so happy.

La Ley del Deseo/ Law of Desire (1987) is a kitsch melodrama inspired by the subculture of feuilletons and soap operas. The plot, which sounds like a high-school prank from the very beginning with its satire of everything that traditional Catholic society holds sacred, gets totally implausible and a little ridiculous after the car accident, when suddenly we learn the disturbing truth behind the transsexual. Overall, Almodovar seems more interested in shocking his audience with very explicit and detailed scenes of sex among men, and in piling up repulsive tales of murder and incest, rather than in finding a coherest tone and message. However, this film might be one of his most visually appealing films.

In the first scene a kid is paid to undress and masturbate on the set of a movie. The second scene opens at the end of the showing of a movie. It is another success for filmmaker Pablo, and it is followed by a party in which people do drugs and engage in homosexual kisses. Pablo goes home with an aspiring actor, Antonio, and is then visited by his young lover Juan, who is about to leave town for a new job. Pablo is aware that Juan is not in love with him and is resigned to it. They do drugs and make love.
After a television interview with an extremely ugly woman, Pablo is visited by his sister Tina and the little teenager Ada. Ada is actually the daughter of Tina's former husband and not biologically Tina's daughter, but Tina is raising her after both parents abandoned her. Later Tina and Ada walk into the church where Tina used to sing as a child. A priest is playing organ and Tina starts singing along. The priest tells her that she reminds him of a boy and she confesses she... is that boy. The priest used to be her spiritual guide, but, of course, he is sad to see that the good boy of those days has turned into a transsexual.
Pablo starts receiving postcards from Juan but never replies. Pablo tells Tina that he started writing on a new movie, and he wants Tina to be the protagonist. He meets Antonio again and Antonio seizes the day, offering himself promptly to the influential filmmaker. When they get in bed, Antonio confesses that it's his first time with a man. The following morning Antonio runs away disgusted, accusing Pablo of being a child molester, but then he comes back, infatuated. Antonio becomes a devoted and caring lover but he too has to leave town, returning to his rich parents' house. Meanwhile Ada's biological mother tries to convince the girl to move with her to Italy. Ada is perfectly happy to live with Tina, who is a struggling theater actress. They mime together on stage a sad French song. Unlike her mother, who is an atheist, Ada is a very religious girl who often prays to the virgin, asking for all sorts of miracles. Later Pablo and Tina do drugs in the restrooms and Pablo confesses that the protagonist of his new movie, that he wants Tina to play, is very similar to Tina herself, something that infuriates Tina.
Pablo gets e call from Juan because he never replies to his letters. Juan now loves him and wants to see him. Pablo promises to visit him right away. Next Antonio calls, annoyed by Pablo's cold letters (signed with a woman's name, the same name as the protagonist of the new movie) so as not to arouse suspicion in Antonio's parents. Pablo obviously doesn't love him and would like to terminate their story, but Antonio is mad. In the middle of the night Antonio gets on his motorcycle and drives all the way to Juan's place, and tells Juan a lie: that Pablo doesn't want to see him anymore. Antonio now wants to make love to Juan because he is obsessed with possessing everything that belongs to Pablo. They fight on a cliff and Juan falls to his death.
The cops find a piece of the shirt that Antonio was wearing, which is identical to the shirt that Pablo is wearing when he arrives in town looking for Juan. Back at home Antonio burns his shirt. His mother is worried about Antonio's odd behavior but accepts to go along with his lies. When Pablo arrives, suspecting Antonio of the killing, his mother defends him. Pablo bites Antonio who was trying to kiss him and drives away just when a car with two cops arrives. One cop escorts a bleeding Antonio back into the house and one stays in the car and follows Pablo's car. The one at Antonio's place interrogates the mother who lies and testifies that her son never left the house. The other cop follows a very upset Pablo who ends up crashing against a tree and being hospitalized with serious injuries.
Tina has to deal with two cops who search Pablo's apartment and easily find out that the letters to Antonio (signed with a woman's name) were written on the same typewriters as Pablo's script, and they suspect that Tina wrote them because the woman impersonated in Pablo's letters to Antonio, the protagonist of his movie script, is so similar to Tina (as Pablo himself already told Tina). Furthermore, one of the two cops hates transsexuals and harasses Tina to the point that she knocks him over with a very male punch to the face.
Pablo wakes up with no memory. Tina, whom he didn't recognize, fills him up with the story of his life. She also confesses something she never told him before: that she was their father's lover, a fact that caused their mother to move out, and that she and their father lived for a few years in Morocco. She then changed sex to please their father's perverted desires. She and Pablo met for the first time after many years at their father's funeral. She had problems dealing with men after their father.
The two cops continue to keep an eye on Pablo and Tina. One day Tina comes to visit Pablo with the news that she got a lover. Pablo recovers his memory but doesn't want people to know it (except for Tina): he prefers to remain at the hospital than return home, and certainly does not want to answer the police's questions. Meanwhile, the police found out that Antonio has a shirt identical to Pablo's. While they chat in front of him, Antonio realizes that his sister's new boyfriend is Antonio himself. Pablo frantically calls Tina to warn her against Antonio, who is standing in front of her. To have an excuse to leave the house, she tells Antonio that the hospital called that Pablo committed suicide. Antonio starts crying but then realizes that she's lying. Ada runs out to call for help. A cop who was spying the house runs inside but is knocked out by Antonio. The police arrive with Pablo and surround the building. Antonio takes Tina hostage and shoots from the balcony. Antonio is willing to negotiate only with Pablo. Pablo easily obtains that Antonio let Tina and the cop leave.
Alone in the apartment, Antonio and Pablo make love one more time. Then Antonio kills himself. Pablo throws the typewriter from the window into the street where it explodes and then hugs Pablo's lifeless body.

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Mujeres en Borde De Un Ataque De Nervios/ Women on The Verge Of Nervous Breakdown (1988) e` un'altra farsa demenziale, è un carosello alla Feydeau.

Pepa si trasferisce in un nuovo appartamento perche' sta impazzendo. Ivan, un uomo di mezza eta`, parla in un microfono a tutte le donne che incontra e guarda uno spezzone di film di Hollywood. Chiama Pepa al telefono che sta ancora dormendo. Pepa si sveglia ma troppo tardi per prendere il telefono. E` un'attrice televisiva. Arriva in ritardo allo studio. Un giovane e una giovane si sposano e lei doppia la voce di lei. In un altro film che sta doppiando si lascia coinvolgere cosi` tanto da piangere e svenire. Pepa chiama Ivan, ma Ivan non c'e`. Parla con la moglie che la insulta. Va dall'agente per cambiare di nuovo appartamento. Poi va a comprare calmanti in farmacia. Torna a casa e trova un altro messaggio di Ivan che la cerca. Causa un fuoco sul letto e poi deve spegnerlo, causando ulteriore devastazione al suo alloggio. Invita un'amica, ma l'amica scappa in taxi. Lei salta su un altro taxi e la insegue. Prende l'indirizzo e torna a casa. In soffitto tiene galline, oche e tacchini.
Una modella, Candela, sente per televisione che hanno arrestato un gruppo terrorista sciita e si libera in una discarica di una borsa di oggetti. Chiama Pepa. Mentre la aspetta, Pepa osserva gli abitanti dell'isolato. Una borsa cade sulla cabina telefonica: l'ha gettata la moglie di Ivan, e Pepa riconosce il figlio Carlos di Ivan che viene a raccattare gli oggetti. Pepa torna a casa, isterica, scaraventa il telefono fuori dalla finestra. Arriva Candela. Pepa la fa entrare e poi fugge per andare ad avvertire la compagnia telefonica. Suonano alla porta. Candela li lascia entrare: e` il figlio di Ivan con la ragazza Marisa, che stanno cercando un appartamento da affittare. Vedono la fotografia di Pepa con loro padre. Pepa arriva proprio in quel momento e si intrattiene con il ragazzo. Marisa, nevrotica e antipatica, e` disgustata. Pepa scopre cosi` che Ivan e` scomparso di casa: la moglie pensa che sia con lei. Mentre Pepa si confida con Carlos, Candela si getta dal terrazzo, ma all'ultimo momento si aggrappa al cornicione. Finalmente Candela si puo` sfogare: confida a Pepa e agli involontari testimoni di aver conosciuto e fatto l'amore con uno straniero, che poi scomparve, e sospetta che si tratti dei terroristi. E` una donna molto ingenua, che si lascia usare facilmente dagli uomini. Intanto Marisa ha bevuto dalla caraffa in cui Pepa aveva sciolto i suoi sonniferi ed e` svenuta. Carlos chiede a Pepa se voleva suicidarsi: Pepa rivela che aveva preparato la caraffa per Ivan.
Decidono di consultare un avvocato. Pepa prende il solito taxi e scoppia a piangere. Cordelia confida a Carlos che i terroristi stanno per dirottare un aereo. Carlos avverte la polizia. L'avvocatessa e` di corsa perche' deve prendere quell'aereo. Litiga con l'arrogante avvocatessa e torna a casa, dove trova la valigia di Ivan. Furibonda, porta la valigia in casa. Pepa suggerisce a Cordelia di andare in vacanza all'estero per rilassarsi, ma non le dice la destinazione. Carlos e` ancora li`, ha riparato il telefono e sta curiosando fra le sue carte.
La moglie di Ivan telefona a Pepa chiedendo di vederla prima che parta, convinta che stia partendo con Ivan. Carlos rivela di essere stato allevato dai nonni, perche' i genitori erano gia` separati, e che la madre venne ricoverata a lungo. L'avvocatessa e` l'avvocato di suo padre. Pepa esce di nuovo, portandosi dietro la valigia. Carlos e Cordialia si baciano, mentre Marisa si agita nel sonno. Arriva Ivan, ma non ha il coraggio di salire e le telefona dalla cabina mentre lei gli passa davanti. Ivan sta partendo con l'avvocatessa. Pepa torna a casa ancor piu` furibonda e butta la segreteria telefonica dalla finestra e colpisce l'auto dell'avvocatessa. Arriva la moglie di Ivan con la polizia. La polizia e` stata chiamata dalla telefonata di Carlos. Cordelia e` terrorizzata e la polizia diventa sempre piu` sospettosa man mano che scopre il letto bruciato, la finestra rotta, il telefono strappato. Per chiudere le indagini Carlos pensa di service la caraffa ai poliziotti. Arriva l'uomo del telefono che lei ha chiamato la mattina. Parlando con la polizia e la moglie tradita, Pepa intuisce che IVan sta probabilmente prendendo l'aereo che sta per essere dirottato. Tutti bevono dalla carraffa e cadono addormentati. Rimangono svegli soltanto Pepa e la moglie tradita. La moglie impugna le pistole dei poliziotti e si dirige verso l'aeroporto sequestrando un motociclista. Pepa la insegue sul solito taxi. Tutti arrivano all'aeroporto. Pepa ferma la moglie che viene arrestata, e poi sviene. Ivan la ringrazia di averle salvato la vita, ma Pepa se ne va senza approfittarne.
Pepa torna a casa, dove ospiti e polizia stanno ancora dormendo. Si risveglia invece Marisa. Pepa le dice cio` che stava cercando di dire a Ivan per due giorni: e` incinta. E Marisa le rivela di aver sognato di aver perso la verginita`.

Atame/ Tie Me Up Tie Me Down (1990) exploits the theme of William Wyler's The Collector, but this time the idea is turned into a comedy. The film would be very minor if it were only about the plot but the visuals are among the most iconic of his career.

Ricky is a good-looking young man, released from a mental hospital by a female doctor who has been his lover and regrets to see him go.
In the meantime, the beautiful Marina is getting ready for shooting a film. A journalist is interviewing the director of the film, Maximo, who moves around in an electric wheelchair. The journalist asks the director why he chose an actress who was a former junkie and a porn star. The journalist, Montse, recognizes an old acquaitance among the actors, Osvaldo. In the meantime, Ricky has seen the picture of Marina and has found his way to the studio. He watches while they film the scene in which Osvaldo attempts to kidnap Marina (a clumsy telenovela-style scene).
All the actors and the staff are invited to a party that night. Marina goes home to take a bath. In the tub she lets a toy touch her intimate parts. Ricky is on his way up the stairs. He breaks into Marina's apartment and locks her in, but he doesn't want to rape her: he wants her to marry him. He promises he will be a good husband and a good father. He is convinced that she will like him if she only gets a change to get to know him. Marina realizes this is the same man who harassed her before, and Ricky admits he escaped a few times from the mental hospital and always came to her. To complicate things, Marina is suffering from a toothache, and begs Ricky to take her to a doctor, her friend Berta.
Her sister Lola calls from the party, worried that she may be flaking out, but Marina is walking out and can't pick up the call. Marina doesn't get a chance to tell Berta what is going on and has to walk back home with Ricky, who keeps her handcuffed. Maximo also calls, after watching a porno movie of hers, anxious to hear her voice, but she's already gagged and tied to the bed. As they go to sleep, Ricky is only wondering how long it will take before she falls in love with him.
As Marina's toothache (or, better, addiction to drugs) does not improve, Ricky has to go out and look and buy more from drug-dealers, but, after ripping one off, he gets badly beaten in an alley. Marina, in the meantime, has managed to free herself, but, when Ricky finally walks back in, she returns to her bed. Realizing that Ricky is bleeding, she stops pretending, removes her ties and takes care of his wounds. She even lets him make love to her. Suddenly, she is tender and loving. She has an amazing orgasm and remembers that he did her before: he had raped her once.
Lola is convinced that Marina ran away. The film, however, has been completed, although the director refuses to admit it (he knows this is the last film of his career and its ending means the ending of his life).
Marina is now fully cooperating with her abductor and willing to take off with him. When Lola finally finds her tied to the bed, while Ricky is out stealing a car, Marina confesses that she is in love with the abductor. They pick up Ricky, who is already desperate, and take him to their mother.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Francesca Ricci)

Atame/Légami (1990) sfrutta il tema di The Collector William Wyler, ma, in quest’occasione l’idea ha la forma della commedia. Il film si classifica tra i meno importanti.

Ricky è un giovane di bell’aspetto, rilasciato dall’ospedale psichiatrico grazie ad una dottoressa che è stata la sua amante e si dispiace nel vederlo andar via.

Nel frattempo, la bella Marina si prepara a girare un film. Un giornalista sta intervistando il regista del film, Maximo, che deambula in una sedia a rotelle elettrica. Il giornalista gli chiede perché abbia scelto come attrice protagonista una che è stata precedentemente drogata e porno star. Il giornalista, Montse, identifica, tra gli attori, una vecchia conoscenza, Osvaldo. Intanto Ricky ha visto la foto di Marina ed è riuscito ad intrufolarsi nello studio. Assiste così alle riprese della scena in cui Osvaldo cerca di rapire Marina (una goffa scena da telenovela).

Gli attori e l’équipe sono tutti invitati ad un party per quella sera. Marina va a casa per farsi un bagno. Nella vasca da bagno, ha un giocattolo che le tocca le parti intime. Ricky è per le scale. Penetra nell’appartamento di marina e ve la chiude dentro a chiave, ma non ha intenzione di violentarla: vuole piuttosto che lei lo sposi. Le promette che sarà un buon marito ed un buon padre. È convinto che lei potrà volergli bene se soltanto avrà l’occasione di conoscerlo. Marina si accorge che Ricky è lo stesso uomo che già in precedenza l’aveva molestata, e Ricky ammette di essere fuggito più volte dall’ospedale psichiatrico e di essersi sempre recato da lei. A complicare le cose, c’è il mal di denti di Marina che prega Ricky di portarla dal dottore, la sua amica Berta.

Lola, la sorella di Marina, la chiama dalla festa, preoccupata che sia troppo stanca, ma Marina sta uscendo e non risponde al telefono. Marina non ha occasione di dire a Berta cosa le sta succedendo, ed è costretta a tornare a casa con Ricky che la tiene ammanettata. Anche Maximo la chiama, dopo aver guardato un film porno da lei interpretato, ansioso di sentire la sua voce, ma lei è già imbavagliata e legata al letto. Mentre si coricano per dormire, Ricky si domanda solamente quanto tempo Marina impiegherà ad innamorarsi di lui.

Il mal di denti di marina (o meglio, la sua assuefazione alla droga) non migliora e Ricky è costretto ad uscire ed acquistarne altra da alcuni spacciatori; ma, dopo averne imbrogliato uno, viene picchiato duramente in un vicolo. Nel frattempo Marina si è liberata ma, come Ricky finalmente rientra, lei torna a letto. Quando si accorge che Ricky sta sanguinando, Marina cessa di fingere, si libera dai lacci e gli cura le ferite. Lo lascia persino fare l’amore con lei. Improvvisamente diviene tenera ed amorevole. Ha un orgasmo favoloso e ricorda ciò che lui le ha già fatto in precedenza: una volta l’ha violentata.

Lola è convinta che Marina sia fuggita. Il film, ad ogni modo, è stato completato, sebbene il regista rifiuti di ammetterlo (sa che è l’ultimo film della sua carriera, e la fine di esso significa la fine della sua stessa vita).

Marina adesso coopera totalmente col suo rapitore ed è desiderosa di andarsene con lui. Quando, finalmente, Lola la trova legata al letto, Ricky è fuori a rubare una macchina. Marina confessa di essere innamorata del suo rapitore. Le due sorelle passano a prendere Ricky, che è già disperato, e lo accompagnano da sua madre.

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Tacones Lejanos/ High Heels (1991), with a soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto,

Kika (1993) is another dark comedy whose plot is a labyrinth of love triangles and sexual agonies.

La Flora De Mi Secreto/ The Flower Of My Secret (1995)

Questo melodramma convenzionale, privo di spessore intellettuale o di una trama interessante, verte attorno alla frustrazione sessuale e alla solitudine lancinante di una donna di mezza eta`, Leo, che, sotto lo pseudonimo di Amanda Gris, e` anche una famosa scrittrice di romanzi dozzinali. La croce di Leo e` l'amore nevrotico per il marito, Paco, un militare che non e` quasi mai a casa e che ovviamente la trascura. Leo lo adora. La sua amica e psicologa Betty la mette in contatto con il giornalista Angel, che se ne invaghisce subito e le offre, coincidenza, di scrivere un articolo sulla sua scrittrice preferita, Amanda Gris. Leo scrive una stroncatura, mentre Angel scrive un panegirico. Leo da` anche a Angel un manoscritto ancora inedito, ma Angel scopre che stanno facendo un film con lo stesso soggetto e si domanda se lei l'abbia plagiato. L'altra meta` della vita di Leo e` quella domestica: l'anziana madre vive con la sorella Rosa, che versa in cattive condizioni economiche, e le due donne si beccano tutto il giorno. La cuoca di Leo, Blanca, e` un'ex ballerina che il figlio sta testardamente cercando di riportare alla ribalta. Leo ha infine problemi con gli editori, perche' non riesce piu` a scrivere una novella rosa come quelle a cui e` impegnata dal contratto. Betty e` l'unica a conoscere la vera identita` di Amanda Gris. Quando finalmente Paco torna a casa, Leo e` galvanizzata, ma l'incontro si rivela una delusione e lui ammette che il loro matrimonio non ha speranze. Leo tenta di suicidarsi inghiottendo una overdose di calmanti, ma riesce soltanto a vomitare. Angel la trova che si aggira come uno zombie per le strade. Ubriaca, gli rivela il suo segreto. Angel la ama teneramente. A casa l'attende Betty, che le rivela di essere da anni l'amante segreta di Paco e le rinfaccia di non voler mai ammettere la verita` a se stesa. Intanto sua madre ha litigato di nuovo con Rosa e ha deciso di tornare al villaggio: Leo ne approfitta per accompagnarla e trascorrere la` la convalescenza. Gli editori sono contenti che lei abbia consegnato due nuovi lavori nel vecchio stile, ma lei non ne sa nulla: Angel confessa di averli scritti lui. Paco le chiede il divorzio. Angel e Leo vanno al balletto di Blanca, che e` un successo. Il figlio di Blanca le rivela di aver sempre rubacchiato in casa sua, e di averle rubato anche il manoscritto trasformato in film, il tutto per aiutare la madre a tornare al balletto. Leo lo perdona. Carne Trimula/ Live Flesh (1997) Nel 1970 e` in vigore la legge marziale. La sera per le strade non c'e` nessuno, la gente ha paura. In una pensione una prostituta ha le doglie. La padrona la trascina in strada, ferma un autobus fuori servizio e costringe l'autista a dirigere verso il piu` vicino ospedale. La prostituta partorisce sull'autobus e il giorno dopo la notizia e` su tutti i giornali. Cosi` nasce Victor.
Vent'anni dopo Victor e` un bel giovane che ha un appuntamento con un'avvenente e misteriosa italiana, Helena. Sancho e` un poliziotto in borghese, alcoolizzato, violento e geloso della moglie Clara che ha appena picchiato nella convinzione che abbia un amante. Pattuglia il vicinato con il partner David. Victor viene respinto da Helena, che aspetta una consegna di droga, ma non si arrende: torna al suo appartamento e tenta di ingraziarsela. Lei lo vuole mettere alla porta ed estrae una rivoltella. Un colpo esplode per sbaglio e i vicini avvertono la polizia. Sancho e David irrompono in casa, Victor prende Helena come ostaggio, Sancho minaccia di sparargli, David lo convince con le buone ad arrendersi. Ma Sancho gli salta egualmente addosso e nella colluttazione parte un colpo che ferisce David. Benche' ferito, David si preoccupa di mettere in salvo Helena. Victor viene condannato a quattro anni di carcere, durante i quali si diploma. David rimane invalido, inchiodato a una carrozzella, ma ha due consolazioni: Helena lo sposa e si ravvede, diventando una benefattrice di orfanotrofi, e, nonostante la carrozzella, lui diventa un campione di basket per handicappati. Victor sogna di vendicarsi di loro. Rilasciato, Victor va subito a visitare la tomba della madre, che lo ha amato fino all'ultimo e gli ha lasciato un po' di denaro e la baracca in cui e` cresciuto. Nello stesso cimitero si stanno tenendo i funerali lussuosi del padre di Helena. Victor non resiste e va a farle le condoglianze. Helena avverte David. David e` teneramente innamorato della moglie e va subito da Victor a minacciarlo. Victor non si lascia spaventare, anzi scopre dove lavora Helena e si fa assumere. Clara, che ha conosciuto al funerale, lo va a trovare. E` attratta fisicamente da lui e lascia che lui la prenda. Victor e` inesperto, ma la prega di insegnargli perche' vuole diventare il piu` grande scopatore del mondo. David scopre pero` la tresca e li fotografa in pose compromettenti. Clara supplica Sancho di concederle il divorzio, ma lui invece la picchia. David scopre che Victor lavora all'asilo di Helena e lo confronta. Victor gli spiega che fu Sancho a sparargli, perche' aveva scoperto che era lui, David, a scopare sua moglie Clara: gliel'ha rivelato Clara stessa. David confessa a Helena la sua antica tresca con Clara. Helena e` sconvolta. Victor e` diventato un sincero benefattore come lei, e le confessa di aver sognato per anni di vendicarsi diventando il piu` grande scopatore del mondo, scopandola selvaggiamente e poi abbandonandola. Victor continua a convivere segretamente con Clara, sempre piu` nevrotica, ma continua anche a pensare a Helena. Helena ci pensa su poi decide di dare a Victor la sua vendetta a patto che lui prometta di non cercarla mai piu`. Scopano tutta la notte. Il giorno dopo Helena lo ammette candidamente a David. Helena non sa mentire. Ma Helena non ride mai. Clara intanto ha deciso di lasciare Sancho, ma deve usare la pistola per guadagnare la porta. David ha deciso di vendicarsi a sua volta di Victor facendo vedere a Sancho le fotografie compromettenti, ben sapendo che Sancho andra` subito a ucciderlo. Helena presagisce il pericolo e si precipita da Victor. Clara e` nella baracca e sta scrivendo una lettera d'addio a Victor quando Sancho irrompe. Clara lo costringe a spararle per salvare la vita a Victor, che sta arrivando ignaro. I due coniugi si sparano a vicenda. Victor arriva in quel momento, Sancho e` ancora vivo e sta rantolando sul cadavere della moglie. Victor vorrebbe ucciderlo ma non riesce a sparare. Sancho prende la mano di Clara che impugna ancora la pistola, la porta alla sua tempia e le fa premere il grilletto. Helena arriva in quel momento, proprio mentre David se ne sta andando. Helena lascia David per Victor e David capisce che e` giusto che sia cosi`: Helena non era felice con lui, era soltanto riconoscente e pietosa. Helena ha le doglie, Victor chiama un taxi e si avviano verso l'ospedale. Sta per ripetersi la scena iniziale, ma Victor spiega al feto che non e` il caso di aver fretta, che la Spagna e` cambiata e la gente non ha piu` paura.

With Todo Sobre Mi Madre/ All About My Mother (1999) Almodovar abandons his comedy style and plunges into bleak tragedy. The domestic settings and erotically charged characters of his previus films turn into devastated personas whose mission is to provide each other with whatever healing they can. There are no winners, and there is no happiness. Just a vast, desolate landscape of failed relationships. If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.

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Con Todo Sobre Mi Madre/ All About My Mother (1999) Almodovar abbandona la commedia come impalcatura dei suoi drammi borghesi e tuffa a piene mani il suo cinema nella tragedia. Manuela e` infermiera in ospedale e assiste spesso a casi di trapianto d'organi. Manuela partecipa a un esperimento in cui un gruppo di psicologi analizza il comportamento dei parenti che devono decidere sul destino degli organi di un congiunto defunto.
Insieme al figlio Esteban assiste in televisione al film "All About Eve", in cui una giovane aspirante ruba il posto a una diva del teatro.
Esteban e` un aspirante scrittore. Il suo diario parla di sua madre.
Vanno insieme a teatro a vedere la tragedia preferita di sua madre, "A Streetcar Named Desire", che lei interpreto` da giovane e sul set della quale conobbe suo marito. All'uscita Esteban vuole aspettare l'attrice e chiederle un autografo. L'attrice pero` s'infila in un taxi e fugge. Esteban le corre dietro e viene travolto da un'auto.
Manuela autorizza il trapianto del cuore, e poi va di nascosto a vedere l'uomo che adesso vive con il cuore di suo figlio.
Per non impazzire, Manuela decide di tornare a Barcelona e cercare il padre di Esteban.
Si fa portare in taxi nella zona delle prostitute. Salva un travestito da un bruto che lo stava violentando e scopre che si tratta del suo amico Agrado. Agrado le parla dell'amica comune Lola, che gli ha rubato tutto ed e` scomparsa nel nulla. Lola e` un altro travestito, ed e` il padre di Esteban.
Agrado accompagna Manuela dalle suore, sperando che la buona Rosa le possa trovare un lavoro. Rosa porta Manuela da sua madre sperando che la madre abbia bisogno di una cuoca. Ma la madre la scambia per una prostituta e non ne vuole sapere. Il padre di Rosa e` rimbambito. La madre, che si guadagna da vivere falsificando quadri di Chagall, non capisce la figlia che vuole fare la missionaria. Rosa e` una santa.
Manuela scopre che la sua tragedia preferita e` adesso a Barcellona e va a vederla di nuovo. Poi si infila nel camerino della protagonista, Huma. Caso vuole che l'attrice sia preoccupata dalla scomparsa dell'altra attrice, Nina, sua amante e tossicodipendente, e che Manuela la aiuti a rintracciarla. Huma le e` grata e le offre il posto di assistente. Huma e` una donna affettuosa che ha il solo vizio di dipendere sessualmente da Nina.
Rosa va a trovare Manuela e le confessa di essere incinta. Il padre e` Lola. Per Manuela e` uno shock, ma non puo` mettere Rosa alla porta e accetta di prenderla con se`. Manuela sostituisce Nina un giorno che e` drogata al punto da non poter camminare. Nina la accusa di voler fare come "Eve" nel film. Manuela confessa che ha sempre conosciuto la parte di Nina, perche' quella tragedia ha segnato la sua vita, dal concepimento alla morte di Esteban. Huma, commossa, diventa sua amica. Manuela pero` deve stare vicina a Rosa e convince Huma a prendere invece Agrado come assistente. Il buffo travestito ha deciso di ravvedersi e diventa un'ottima governante. Sia Nina sia l'attore maschile la maltrattano, ma Agrado ha una filosofia pratica e ottimista della vita e non se ne cura.
Rosa ha l'AIDS. A Manuela non resta che avvisare la madre. La madre non e` mai riuscita a comunicare con la figlia, e conserva anche nella tragedia un che' di ipocrita, anche quando si offre di stare vicino alla figlia.
Agrando intanto deve improvvisare un monologo sul palcoscenico per rimpiazzare le due attrici che, durante uno sfogo di gelosia, si sono accapigliate e sono finite entrambe all'ospedale.
Agrado, Manuela, Huma e Rosa hanno formato per qualche giorno una famiglia molto unita.
Rosa sulla via dell'ospedale si ferma a salutare il padre, che pero` non la riconosce. Durante il parto, muore. Al funerale si presenta Lola, il travestito, ormai minato dall'AIDS. Ha sempre desiderato un bambino ed e` felice di apprendere che il figlio di Rosa e` sopravvissuto. Manuela gli rivela piangendo che anche Esteban era figlio suo, ma e` morto. Manuela porta il bambino a Lola e poi rivela alla madre di Rosa che quello e` il padre. La madre e` sempre piu` shockata, oltre a essere terrorizzata di poter prendere l'AIDS. Manuela decide di andarsene e di portare con se` il bebe`, che, per desiderio di Rosa, e` stato battezzato Esteban. Ed Esteban era anche il vero nome di Lola. Torna dopo due anni. Il bambino e` guarito di AIDS e i dottori vogliono studiare il suo caso. Lola e` morta, Nina si e` sposata e ha un figlio.
Il titolo del film sembra alludere al fatto che la storia sia raccontata "moralmente" dal figlio morto. Almodovar si diverte a mettere in scena una serie di simmetrie impostate sul rapporto fondamentale di madre-figlio. Almodovar si diverte anche a de-costruire un film e una tragedia, a intrecciarne la trama. E` come se prendesse due tragedie greche, le fondesse e le trasportasse nel mondo contemporaneo. L'azione del film spesso si confonde con un video o una scena teatrale: il film mescola anche narrazione a diversi livelli. Soltanto la macchietta di Agrado rimane vincolata al suo humour sacrilego, ma e` un humour sempre piu` amaro. Agrado e` un po' il "fool" delle tragedie shakespeariane, ma la sua e` una filosofia di vita piu` profondo di quanto sembri. La sua e` una filosofia appresa nelle strade, la filosofia di chi conosce la vita.

By this time, Almodovar's films were still somewhat unconventional, but had become less and less unpredictable, and certainly much more aligned with Hollywood standards than they used to be.

Hable con Ella/ Talk To Her (2002) is a melodrama of sort, that defies the stereotypes of the genre while remaining totally within its framework. The problem is that, as Almodovar's cinema gets more and more serious, its meaning gets more and more pointless. This is no exception: the film could well be his most accomplished ever, but it is also the most pointless ever. The story of a manic love obsession is not all that different from so many that have been told before by countless B movies around the world. The fact that the object of the protagonist's desire is a woman in a coma could be the twist that makes it different, but then Almodovar bends to Hollywood's demands for a happy ending, and sacrifices the whole originality of the film to an implausible and very pathetic ending. The study of loneliness remains in the background, and the conventional heartbreaking storyline moves to the foreground. The one moment of magic genius (the silent movie about the little man who walked into a vagina) remains an odd detour without blooming as it could have.

The film begins with a curtain opening to reveal a stage (the ending of All About My Mother). Two young men, sitting next to each other, are watching a theatrical play and they are both moved by the scene. One of them, Benigno, works as a nurse in a hospital, where he takes care of one specific patient, Alicia, a beautiful girl who is in a coma. He has been doing it for four years, and is in charge of the most intimate chores (he washes Alicia's menstrual blood). Benigno is a kind and generous man whom everybody in the hospital trusts and likes. The other man, Marco, is a journalist, who, watching a delirious tv interview with a female bullfighter, Lydia, decides to approach her about writing an article for a leading newspaper. Lydia has just ended a relationship with a popular star, and the tabloids are dying to get more details on the story. Marco and Lydia become friend after he gives her a ride back from and kills a snake that Lydia finds in the kitchen. Months later, Lydia is gored by a bull, falls in a coma and is taken to the same hospital. Marco assists her, and her old lover (the star) comes to visit her. They both feel responsible for her accident (the star broke her heart, Marco thinks that he did something to upset her).
Marco and Benigno meet by accident at the hospital, and Benigno immediately recognizes the man of the theater. Marco realizes that Benigno talks to his patient, Alicia, as if she could hear him. Benigno is clearly devoted to the girl. Her father visits her and asks Benigno about his sexual orientation: Benigno replies that he likes men, but then tells another nurse that he simply wanted to dispel any lingering doubt in the father's mind. Another visitor if Katerina, who used to be Alicia's ballet teacher. Katerina treated Alicia like her own daughter.
Benigno tells Marco how he got involved with Alicia's life. Benigno used to live with his mother in an apartment. From the window, he could see Katerina's school, and fell in love with Alicia. One day he got the chance to meet her in person (she dropped her wallet), and find out where she lived. Benigno's mother had just died: Benigno had been assisting her for 15 years. Knowing that her father was a psychiatrist, Benigno asked for an appointment. During the session with Alicia's father, Benigno confessed to be a virgin and to have had a difficult childhood (his father abandoned him to form a new family). After the session, Benigno sneaked into Alicia's room and ran into her as she was coming out of the shower. He babbled something to the extent that he didn't mean any harm and walked out. On a rainy day something bad happened: he could see Katerina leave the school in a hurry. He then learned that Alicia had been run over by a car and was in a coma. As Benigno had studied nursing, it was easy for him to get employed by her father to watch over her daily. Now his life consists in talking to her. He tells her everything that happens to him and reads her books.
Marco has the opposite attitude. He can't pretend that Lydia is alive and well. He knows that Lydia is brain dead.
Despite their different personalities, Marco and Benigno become good friends. They even "introduce" their women to each other. By now the whole hospital thinks that Benigno is gay. But Benigno is not. One day he watches a surreal silent film about a female scientist whose invention causes her lover to shrink. He becomes so small that one night he can wander over her naked body and eventually enter her vagina (giving her the sweetest orgasm). As Benigno recalls the film's plot, he is massaging/caressing the naked body of Alicia.
A flashback shows what happened right before Lydia's accident. Marco and Lydia, by then lovers, had met in the church where Marco's old flame was getting married. Marco had seen Lydia cry and thought that she was jealous, and tried to explain that he didn't feel anything anymore for that woman. Marco believes that the accident was somehow caused by Lydia's insecurity about his feelings.
But the truth expects him at the hospital. The star has decided to stay near Lydia and tell Marco what Lydia had meant to tell him that day: that they were together again. Lydia was crying because she was thinking of the star, not of Marco. And the accident itself may have been caused by her strong emotion.
Marco walks out of the hospital a lonely man, as lonely as Benigno. Benigno, in the meantime, tells him that he has decided to marry Alicia. Marco, upset, makes him promise to abandon this demented idea. But it is too late: as Marco leaves the country for an exotic vacation, the hospital staff, alerted by the end of her menstruation, discovers that Alicia has been raped and is now pregnant. A witness has even heard Benigno discuss with Marco his intention of marrying the girl in a coma. Benigno is thrown into jail. While in Jordan, Marco reads that Lydia died. He calls the hospital to find out the details and learns that Benigno has been fired and is in jail. Marco takes the first plane back to Spain and immediately visits Benigno. Benigno is only interested in finding out what happened to Alicia and to the baby that she was carrying. Marco rents Benigno's flat and can see Katerina's school. And sees Alicia: she is not only alive, but even capable of walking. Marco learns from the attorney that Alicia survived but the baby was born dead. The attorney discourages Marco from telling Benigno the truth because of Benigno's unstable mental state. Marco receives a call from Benigno who is planning to escape. Marco rushes to the jail and is escorted to the director's office. Benigno died and left a note for him. It turns out Benigno was not planning to escape or to commit suicide: he was planning to fall in a coma and thus be joined with Alicia. Marco goes to visit his grave and tells him that Alicia is alive and well: Benigno has resurrected her.
One day Marco actually meets Alicia, who is watching the same ballet in the company of Katerina. But Marco does not dare tell her the story. He tells Katerina that Benigno is dead. The curtain opens. Marco turns and smiles at Alicia...
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Emanuele Carrafa)

Almodovar ha perso gran parte del suo mordente e sta esaurendo l'imaginazione. I suoi film hanno ancora qualcosa di insolito, ma sono sempre meno imprevedibili e sicuramente molto più in linea con gli standard hollywoodiani di quanto non fossero in precedenza. PARLA CON LEI (2002) è una sorta di melodramma, che si oppone agli stereotipi del genere rimanendo completamente dentro la sua struttura. Il problema è che mentre il cinema di Almodovar diventa sempre più serio, il suo significato si fa via via più insignificante. Questo film non fa eccezione: potrebbe tranquillamente essere il suo film più compiuto, ma è anche quello più insulso. La storia di una maniacale ossessione amorosa non è tutto ciò che fa la differenza dalle tante che sono state raccontate prima da innumerevoli B movies in tutto il mondo. Il fatto che l'oggetto del desiderio del protagonista sia una donna in coma potrebbe essere la svolta che fa la differenza, ma a questo punto Almodovar si piega alla richiesta di Hollywood di un lieto fine, e sacrifica l'intera originalità del film ad una fine inammissibile ed estremamente patetica. Lo studio sulla solitudine rimane sullo sfondo, e la linea guida della storia, convenzionale e strappalacrime, si muove in primo piano. L'unico momento di magica genialità (il film muto sul piccolo uomo che camminò in una vagina) rimane una digressione isolata che non spicca come avrebbe potuto.

Il film inizia con un sipario che si apre per svelare un palco (la fine di TUTTO SU MIA MADRE). Due giovanotti, seduti uno vicino all'altro, stanno assistendo ad uno spettacolo teatrale e sono entrambi commossi dalla rappresentazione scenica. Uno di loro, Benigno, lavora come infermiere in un ospedale, dove si prende cura di una paziente in particolare, Alicia, una bella ragazza in coma. Lo fa da quattro anni, ed è incaricato delle faccende più intime (lava il sangue mestruale di Alicia). Benigno è un uomo carino e generoso, che tutti nell'ospedale stimano e apprezzano. L'altro uomo, Marco, è un giornalista, che, guardando una deliziosa intervista televisiva ad una donna torero, Lydia, decide di avvicinarsi a lei per scrivere un articolo per un giornale autorevole. Lydia è appena uscita da una relazione con una pop star, e le riviste muoiono dalla voglia di raccogliere maggiori dettagli sulla storia. Marco e Lydia diventano amici dopo che lui le offre un passaggio a casa e uccide un serpente che Lydia ha trovato in cucina. Mesi dopo, Lydia viene colpita da un toro, entra in coma e viene ricoverata nello stesso ospedale. Marco la assiste, e il vecchio spasimante di lei (la star) viene a farle visita. Entrambi gli uomini si sentono responsabili dell'incidente (la sta le ha spezzato il cuore, Marco pensa di aver fatto qualcosa che l'ha turbata). Marco e Benigno si incontrano per caso in ospedale, e Benigno immediatamente riconosce l'uomo visto a teatro. Marco capisce che Benigno parla alla sua paziente, Alicia, come se lei potesse sentirlo. Benigno è chiaramente devoto alla ragazza. Il padre di lei va a trovarla e chiede a Benigno dei suoi gusti sessuali: Benigno risponde che a lui piacciono gli uomini, ma poi racconta ad un altro infermiere che lui voleva semplicemente dissolvere qualsiasi dubbio che indugia sulla mente del padre. Un'altra visitatrice è Katerina, che era l'insegnante di ballo di Alicia. Katerina trattava Alicia come una figlia. Benigno racconta a Marco di come è entrato nella vita di Alicia. Benigno viveva con sua madre in un appartamento. Dalla finestra poteva vedere la scuola di Katerina, e si era innamorato di Alicia. Un giorno aveva avuto l'occasione di incontrarla di persona (lei aveva perso il portafogli), e aveva scoperto dove viveva. La madre di Benigno è morta da poco: Benigno l'aveva assistita per 15 anni. Sapendo che il padre di Alicia era uno psichiatra, Benigno aveva chiesto un appuntamento. Durante una seduta con l'uomo, Benigno aveva confessato di essere vergine e di aver avuto un'infanzia difficile (il padre l'aveva abbandonato per rifarsi una famiglia). Dopo la seduta, Benigno era sgattaiolato in camera di Alicia e le era corso incontro mentre lei usciva dalla doccia. Aveva balbettato qualcosa per spiegare che non voleva farle del male e poi era andato via. In un giorno di pioggia qualcosa era accaduto: riuscì a vedere Katerina che si affrettava a lasciare la scuola. Successivamente aveva appreso che Alicia era stata investita da una macchina ed era entrata in coma. Poichè Benigno aveva studiato per diventare infermiere, fu facile per lui farsi assumere dal padre di Alicia per badarle quotidianamente. Adesso la sua vita consite nel parlarle. Le racconta tutto ciò che gli sucede e le legge dei libri. Marco ha un comportamento opposto. Non riesce a fingere che Lydia sia viva e stia bene. Sa che Lydia è cerebralmente morta. Nonostante le loro personalità così diverse, Marco e Benigno diventano buoni amici. Addirittura "presentano" le loro donne una all'altra. Fino ad ora l'intero ospedale crede che Benigno sia gay. Ma lui non lo è. Un giorno vede un film muto surrealista su una donna la cui invenzione avaeva causato il rimpicciolimento del suo amante. Questi diventa così piccolo che una notte riesce a camminare sul corpo nudo di lei e alla fine entra nella sua vagina (dandole il più dolce orgasmo). Poichè Benigno ricorda la trama del film, sta massaggiando / accarezzando il corpo nudo di Alicia. Un flashback mostra cosa è successo poco prima dell'incidente di Lydia. Marco e Lydia, da allora amanti, si erano incontrati nella chiesa in cui una vecchia fiamma di marco si stavasposando. Marco aveva visto Lydia piangere e aveva pensato che lei fosse gelosa, e aveva cercato di spegarle che lòui non provava più nulla per quella donna. Marco crede che l'incidente sia stato in qualche modo causato dall'insicurezza di Lydia a proposito dei suoi sentimenti. Ma la verità lo attende in ospedale. La star ha deciso di stare icino a Lydia e racconta a Marco ciò che Lydia aveva intenzione di dirgli quel giorno: che stavano insieme di nuovo. Lydia stava piangendo perchè stava pensando alla star, non a Marco. E lo stesso incidente può essere stato causato dalla sua forte emozione. Marco esce dall'ospedale come un uomo solo, tanto quanto Benigno. Benigno, in quel mentre, gli dice che ha deciso di sposare Alicia. Marco, sconvolto, gli fa promettere di accantonare questa stupida idea. Ma è troppo tardi: mentre Mrco lascia il paese per una vacanza esotica, lo staff dell'ospedale, allertato dalla fine del ciclo mestruale di Alicia, scopre che è stata violentata e d è incinta. Un testimone ha persino udito Benigno discutere con Marco la sua intenzione di sposare la ragazza in coma. Benigno viene incarcerato. Mentre si trova in Giordania, Marco apprende che Lydia è morta. Chiama in osedale per ulteriori ragguagli e scopre che Benigno è stato sbattuto fuori ed è in prigione. Marco prende il primo aereo per la Spagna e immediatamente va a fare visita a Benigno. A Benigno interssa soltanto sapere cosa è successo ad Alicia e al bambino che aveva in grembo. Marco affitta l'appartamento di Benigno e riesce a scorgere la scuola di Katerina. E vede Alicia: non solo è viva, ma pefino capace di camminare. Marco viene a sapere dal procuratore che Alicia è sopravvissuta ma il bambino è nato morto. Il procuratore scoraggia Marco nel dire la verità a Benigno a causa dell'instabilità mentale di questi. Marco riceve una chiamata da Benigno che sta progettando di evadere. Marco si precipita in prigione ed è scortato all'ufficio del direttore. Benigno è morto ed ha lasciato un messaggio per lui. Si scopre che Benigno non stava programmando la fuga e nemmeno di suicidarsi: stava programmando di entrare in coma ed essere così legato ad Alicia. Marco va a visitare la sua tomba e gli racconta che Alicia è viva e sta bene: Benigno l'ha resuscitata. Un giorno incontra veramente Alicia, che sta guardando lo stesso balletto in compagnia di Katerina. Ma Marco non osa raccontarle la storia. Dice a Katerina che Benigno è morto. Il sipario si apre. Marco si gira e sorride ad Alicia...

Mala Education/ Bad Education (2004) is a post-modern thriller that plays with a nonlinear plot the way Christopher Nolan's Memento or Alejandro Inarritu's 21 Grams did, and with ambiguous identities the way David Lynch does. The film's plot moves from the present to inside a manuscript (Zahara's story part one) to the past (the seminary's story) back to the present to inside a film (Zahara's story part two) and back to the present.
Almodovar's perverted voyeuristic journey has achieved the status of a meditation not on the decadence of western morality but on narrative art itself. The theme of the corruption of the innocents enters an abstract dimension in which it becomes the theme of the "visit": ghosts of the past who visit the present to end stories that were left unfinished.
Like in a Borges' labyrinth, the same manuscript keeps appearing at different level of the narrative. At one point it "is" the narrative itself, but it is also one of the objects of the narrative.
Interestingly, the plot is also modeled after the narrative models of Dickens or Hugo, which the characters reappearing unrecognizable and continuously twisting the story.
This is also one of his most brutal and pessimistic films, as it involves not one but two sad endings. The film ends twice, and both times with the cruel, deliberate murder of the moral victim (the innocent that was corrupted).
Could this an autobiographical film, along the lines of Blake Edwards' SOB, and Enrique be no other than Almodovar himself, afflicted by a creative crisis and therefore resorting to a childhood memory?
What kind of "angel" is this Angel?
The "angel" brings the director the script that restarts his career, that ends his creative crisis. Everybody else dies, but the director continues to make films.

Enrique, a popular actor and filmmaker, reads aloud weird stories from a newspaper. He and his production manager (and perhaps sexual partner) Martin are looking for new ideas for their next film. A young man rings the bell and asks to see Enrique. He introduces himself as a friend from the Catholic seminary they both attended as children, Ignacio. Enrique is moved to see again his old friend after 16 years, although does not quite recognize him. Ignacio, who insists on being called Angel, is an actor looking for an opportunity in the world of cinema, and offers Enrique a manuscript titled "The Visit", which is based on their childhood. Enrique takes it and admits that he is in the middle of a creative crisis. When Ignacio leaves, Enrique admits to Martin that Ignacio was his first love.
A sudden change of scene (the plot of "The Visit"?) shows Ignacio, a transvestite, performing at a theater as Zahara, a female singer, together with his friend and fellow transvestite Paquito. Outside, they meet a drunk motorcyclist, Enrique, and take him to Zahara's place, where Zahara tries in vain to perform fellatio on him. But Enrique falls asleep, and Zahara signals to Paquito that he can steal his motorcycle. As Ignacio is going through his belongings, he sees his name, Enrique, and is shocked. He replaces the wallet and stops Paquito. He leaves Enrique a note: that he still in love with him and wants to see him again. He also leaves him a manuscript, "The Visit".
Which is the manuscript that Enrique is reading in his (unfurnished) room.
Then Ignacio/Zahara and Paquito, still dressed like women, walk into the chapel of a father Manolo. He was the teacher who corrupted Ignacio at the seminar. Ignatio confronts him, pretending to be Ignacio's sister. Manolo denies all wrongdoing and asks him to leave, while Paquito steals all the silver he can find in the chapel. Ignacio/Zahara climbs the wall of the seminar and walks to Manolo's office. He confronts him again and blackmails him: he has written the story of how the priest abused him as a child, and leaves him the manuscript, "The Visit".
A flashback shows what happened at the seminary. Enrique and Ignacio fell in love, after father Manolo had already corrupted Ignacio. Father Ignacio found them locked in a bathroom. Ignacio offered himself to father Manolo (his first act of prostitution) in exchange for the promise that father Manolo would forgive Enrique, but Manolo expelled Enrique anyway. They never saw each other again until the day Ignacio showed up at Enrique's villa.
Enrique has finished the manuscript and likes what he read. He calls Ignacio, who wants to be called Angel, and gives him the good news: he has decided to produce a movie based on the script and Ignacio will be one of the actors. Ignacio is ecstatic, but then they argue over the role that Ignacio should play: the transvestite or Enrique. As Ignacio insists, Enrique tells him "you are not Ignacio" and kicks him out. Suspicious of the real identity of the actor, Enrique travels to Ignacio's hometown and visits his mother. His mother tells him that Ignacio died, and his younger brother Juan was the one who found his body. Juan, who likes to be called Angel (and is the same young man of the manuscript), burned all of Ignacio's letters and manuscripts, except one envelop that his mother salvaged: it is addressed to Enrique, and contains a manuscript about their childhood, titled "The Visit", which he plans to use to blackmail father Manolo. Ignacio's mother also adds that a publisher was desperately trying to obtain the manuscript.
Back home, Enrique receives the visit of Juan, who is sorry about the argument and is willing to play the role of the transvestite. In fact, he has approached a real-life transvestite to get private lessons on the art. They become lovers, but Enrique does not tell him that he knows he is a fake.
They begin filming "The Visit", except Enrique changes the last scene from a happy ending to a dramatic ending. On the last day of filming, they receive a visit: a man watches while on the set Juan plays Ignacio, dressed in his usual transvestite outfit, is blackmailing father Manolo in his office: the continuation from where Zahara's story was left. We see the continuation of the scene at the seminary but this time we also see that the scene is merely the set of the film (director, assistants and cameramen standing on one side, while father Manolo and Juan recite on the other side). Father Manolo has no intention of paying for Ignacio's silence. Another priest, who used to beat the children when they were little, walks in and snaps Ignacio's neck. Now they only have to dispose of the body. The film is finished. The crew invades the set, congratulating the actors. Juan/Ignacio cries.
The visitor, who has been watching, follows Enrique into his office and introduces himself: he is father Manolo, now old and sick (he keeps coughing), and a man with a new identity, a publisher, married, father of a child. He wants to tell Enrique how Ignacio truly died, and Enrique can't help listening, because, deep inside, he still loves Ignacio. Ignacio, now a junkie and a transvestite, was blackmailing father Manolo with the manuscript. Manolo refused to pay, but began to visit him more and more often because he fell in love with the younger brother, Juan, whom their mother had sent to watch over Ignacio. Manolo buys drugs for Ignacio, and is happy to see him slowly descend into hell, for a chance to see Juan. When Ignacio travels to his hometown, Manolo succeeds into seducing Juan. When Ignacio comes back unannounced, he finds them in bed together. He doesn't seem distressed at all by the sight, but demands that Manolo pays him. Juan calls his mother and finds out that Ignacio has robbed his aunt of her pension and broke his mom's heart again. Juan realizes that Ignacio is ruining everybody's lives and plots with Manolo to kill his brother. Manolo brings Ignacio a lethal dose of heroin. Ignacio dies just when he had honestly decided to enter a detox clinic and clean up. Manolo and Ignacio separated after the murder and never saw each other again.
Manolo ends his story and Juan sees him come out of Enrique's office. Manolo is stil in love with him and begs him to come back to him. Manolo tells Juan that he told Enrique the truth about Ignacio's death. It turns out that Juan knew that Enrique knew he was not Ignacio: he had heard from his mother of Enrique's visit. Enrique kicks Juan out of his villa.
(Why did Enrique go along with the whole charade, if he already knew that Juan was a fake? To find out Ignacio's truth? Out of sheer lust for Juan's body? Out of the desire to get out of his creative crisis? In the end, Enrique is the real pervert).
Manolo keeps chasing Angel, and one day Angel runs him over and kills him. Enrique is busy making more films.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Betty)

La Mala Educacion (2004) è un thriller post-moderno che gioca su una trama non lineare come "Memento" o "21 grammi" e con identita’ ambigue tipiche di David Linch. La trama della pellicola si sposta dal presente verso l'interno di un manoscritto (parte prima della storia di Zahara) verso il passato (la storia del collegio dei preti) di nuovo al presente all'interno di un film (parte seconda della storia di Zahara) e di nuovo al presente. Il viaggio perverso e voyeristico di Almodovar ha raggiunto lo stato di una meditazione non tanto sulla decadenza della moralità occidentale quanto sull'arte narrativa in se’. Il tema della corruzione degli innocenti entra in una dimensione astratta in cui si trasforma nel tema della "visita": fantasmi del passato che visitano il presente per concludere storie non finite. Come dentro un labirinto di Borges, lo stesso manoscritto continua ad apparire su livelli diversi della narrazione. Ad certo un punto "è" la narrazione stessa, ma è anche uno degli oggetti della stessa. Curiosamente, la trama inoltre ricalca i modelli narrativi di Dickens o di Hugo, i cui personaggi appaiono e riappaiono irriconoscibili contorcendo la storia continuamente. Questa è inoltre una delle sue pellicole più brutali e pessimistiche, poichè include non uno ma due tristi finali. La pellicola si conclude due volte ed entrambe le volte con l'omicidio crudele e intenzionale della vittima morale (l’ innocente che è stato corrotto). Potrebbe essere questa una pellicola autobiografica, seguendo le linee di „SOB" di Blake Edwards ed Enrique essere nessun’altro che Almodovar stesso, afflitto una crisi creativa e quindi spinto a fare ricorso alle sue memorie d’infanzia? Che genere "di angelo" è questo angelo? "l'angelo" porta al direttore il copione che re-inizia la sua carriera, che pone fine alla sua crisi creativa. Tutti gli altri muoiono, ma il regista continua a girare films.

Enrique, attore popolare e regista, legge ad alta voce storie bizzarre da un giornale. Lui ed il suo manager di produzione (e forse partner sessuale) Martin stanno cercando nuove idee per la loro prossima pellicola. Un giovane suona il campanello e chiede di vedere Enrique. Si presenta come Ignacio, un’amico dai tempi del collegio cattolico che frequentavano entrambi. Enrique è commosso al rivedere il suo vecchio amico dopo 16 anni, anche se non lo riconosce veramente. Ignacio, che insiste nel farsi chiamare Angel, è un attore che cerca un'occasione nel mondo del cinema ed offre a Enrique un manoscritto intitolato "la visita", basato sulla loro infanzia. Enrique lo prende ed ammette di essere nel mezzo di una crisi creativa. Quando Ignacio se ne va, Enrique confida a Martin che Ignacio era il suo primo amore. Un cambio improvviso di scena (la trama de "la visita"?) mostra Ignacio, un travestito, in un teatro nella parte di Zahara, una cantante, insieme al suo amico e compagno Paquito anche lui un travestito. Fuori, incontrano un motociclista ubriaco, Enrique, e lo portano a casa di Zahara, che inutilmente cerca di avere del sesso orale con lui. Enrique infatti si addormenta e Zahara avverte Paquito che può rubare la sua motocicletta. Mentre Ignacio/Zahara sta frugando fra suoi effetti personali, vede il suo nome, Enrique, ed è scosso. Rimette a posto il portafoglio e ferma Paquito. Lascia a Enrique una nota: che e’ ancora innamorato lui e desidera vederlo di nuovo. Inoltre gli lascia un manoscritto, "la visita". Che è il manoscritto che Enrique sta leggendo nella sua stanza non ammobiliata. Allora Ignacio/Zahara e Paquito, ancora vestiti da donna, entrano nella cappella di padre Manolo. Era l'insegnante che ha corrotto Ignacio al seminario. Ignacio lo affronta, fingendo di essere sorella di Ignacio. Manolo nega ogni malefatta e gli chiede di andarsene, mentre Paquito ruba tutto l'argento che trova nella cappella. Ignacio/Zahara si arrampica sul muro del seminario ed entra nell'ufficio di Manolo. Lo affronta di nuovo e lo ricatta: ha scritto la storia di come il prete ha abusato di lui da bambino e gli lascia il manoscritto, "la visita". Un flashback mostra che cosa è accaduto al collegio. Enrique e Ignacio si innamorano, dopo che padre Manolo ha abusato di Ignacio. Padre Manolo li trova chiusi in bagno. Ignacio si offre a padre Manolo (il suo primo atto di prostituzione) in cambio della promessa che avrebbe perdonato Enrique, ma padre Manolo espelle Enrique comunque. Non si incontrano mai piu’ fino al giorno in cui Ignacio non si presenta alla villa di Enrique. Enrique ha finito il manoscritto e gli piace molto che cosa ha letto. Telefona a Ignacio, che desidera essere chiamato Angel e gli dà la buona notizia: ha deciso di produrre un film basato sul manoscritto e Ignacio sarà uno degli attori. Ignacio è estasiato, ma poi discutono sulla sua parte: il travestito o Enrique. Mentre Ignacio insiste, Enrique gli dice "tu non sei Ignacio" e lo caccia via. Sospettoso circa la reale identità dell'attore, Enrique si reca alla citta’ natale di Ignacio e fa visita alla madre. Lei gli racconta che Ignacio è morto e che fu Juan, suo fratello piu’ giovane a trovare il corpo. Juan, che preferisce essere chiamato Angel (ed è lo stesso giovane del manoscritto), ha bruciato tutte le lettere e i manoscritti di Ignacio, meno un plico che sua madre ha salvato: è indirizzato a Enrique e contiene un manoscritto circa la loro infanzia, intitolato "la visita", che Ignacio aveva in mente di usare per ricattare padre Manolo. La madre di Ignacio aggiunge inoltre che un editore stava provando disperatamente ad ottenere il manoscritto. Di nuovo a casa, Enrique riceve la visita di Juan, che è dispiaciuto per la discussione ed è disposto a recitare la parte del travestito. Infatti, ha conosciuto un vero travestito per avere lezioni private sull'arte. Diventano amanti, ma Enrique gli non dice che e’ a conoscenza della sua vera identita’. Cominciano a girare "la visita", come nel manoscritto, fatta eccezione per l’ultima scena che Enrique decide di cambiare per un finale drammatico. L'ultimo giorno delle riprese, ricevono una visita: un uomo che guarda mentre Juan recita il ruolo di Ignacio, vestito nel suo modo abituale quando ricattava padre Manolo nel suo ufficio: la continuazione della storia di Zahara al punto in cui è stata lasciata. Vediamo la continuazione della scena al collegio ma questa volta vediamo inoltre che la scena è semplicemente il set del film (direttore, assistenti e cineoperatori in piedi da un lato, mentre padre Manolo e Juan recitano dall'altro). Padre Manolo non ha intenzione di pagare il silenzio di Ignacio. Un altro prete, che era solito picchiare i bambini quando erano piccoli, entra e spezza il collo di Ignacio. Ora devono soltanto disfarsi del corpo. Il film è finito. La squadra invade il set, congratulandosi con gli attori. Juan/Ignacio piange. L'uomo che stava guardando, segue Enrique nel suo ufficio e si presenta: è padre Manolo, ora vecchio ed ammalato (continua a tossire) e un uomo con una nuova identità, un editore, sposato, padre di un bambino. Desidera dire a Enrique come mori’ Ignacio ed Enrique non può fare a meno di ascoltare, perché, dentro di lui, ancora ama Ignacio. Ignacio, eroinomane e travestito, stava ricattando padre Manolo con il manoscritto. Manolo rifiuto’ di pagare, ma comincio’ ad andare a trovarlo sempre più spesso perché si era innamorato del fratello più giovane, Juan, mandato dalla loro madre a prendersi cura di Ignacio. Manolo comprava le droghe per Ignacio felice di vederlo lentamente cadere all’ inferno, pensano alla possibilita’ di vedere Juan. Mentre Ignacio va in viaggio alla sua citta’ natale, Manolo riesce a sedurre Juan. Quando Ignacio fa ritorno prima del previsto, li trova a letto insieme. Non sembra affatto toccato dalla scena, ma vuole che Manolo lo paghi. Juan chiama sua madre e scopre che Ignacio ha rubato la pensione di sua zia ed ha spezzato ancora il cuore della madre. Juan si rende conto che Ignacio sta rovinando la vita di tutti e complotta con Manolo di uccidere il fratello. Manolo porta a Ignacio una dose mortale di eroina. Ignacio muore nel momento stesso in cui onestamente aveva deciso entrare in una clinica per disintossicarsi e purificarsi. Manolo e Juan si sono separati dopo l'omicidio e non si sono mai piu’ visti . Manolo conclude la sua storia e Juan lo vede uscire dall'ufficio di Enrique. Manolo è ancora innamorato di lui e lo prega di tornare insieme. Manolo dice a Juan a che ha detto a Enrique tutta la verità circa la morte di Ignacio. Viene fuori che Juan gia’ sapeva che Enrique era a conoscenza che non fosse Ignacio: la madre gli aveva detto della visita di Enrique. Enrique caccia Juan dalla sua villa. (perchè Enrique è andato avanti nella farsa, se già sapeva che Juan stava recitando? Per scoprire la verità su Ignacio? Per il puro gusto del corpo di Juan? Per il desiderio di uscire della sua crisi creativa? Alla fine, Enrique è il vero pervertito). Manolo continua a inseguire Angel e un giorno Angel lo investe con la sua macchina e lo uccide. Enrique è occupatissimo a girare più film.

Volver (2006) has one of Almodovar's most subtle scripts. Mother and grand-daughter committed the same crime, and Raimunda is in the middle to bear the consequences. But they all finally find a sense of purpose.

Women of a small town tend to the tombs of their dead relativs in the town's cemetery. Among them are Raimunda, her younger divorced sister Sole and Raimunda's daughter Paula, who have come from the capital to pay homage to Raimunda's and Sole's parents, who died romantically in a fire hugging each other till the en. They visit their old and sick aunt Paula, and wonder how she manages to take care of her big house by herself. They also visit Raimunda's friend Agustina. Her mother (who never married) disappeared the same day that Raimunda's parents died. Back home Raimunda has to deal with her husband Paco, who drinks and watches tv after being fired, and all he thinks is having sex. He seems also morbidly attracted to his daughter Paula. Raimunda works hard during the day. One night she finds Paula waiting for her at the bus stop under the rain. Paula does not say a word, but at home Raimunda finds the dead body of Paco: Paula killed him when he tried to rape her in the bathroom. Raimunda does not call the police and does not tell anyone. She hides the corpse. The same evening her sister calls that aunt Paula died. Raimunda finds an excuse not go to the funeral. That same evening her friend Emilio leaves her the keys of the restaurant because he has to go away from town. Raimunda decides to move the corpse to the restaurant. Believing her to be the owner, a film crew asks her to cook a meal fr 30 people. Raimunda accepts and de facto reopens the restaurant. In the meantime Sole, who is scared of dead people, returns to the village and joins the women who are mourning. And she meets the ghost of her dead mother. Sole runs away terrified. However, Agustina also tells her that her mother has been seen around the house. When Sole gets home, she hears her mother's voice coming form the trunk of the car. It is indeed her mother, who has been alive all those years, hiding in the house with aunt Paula. Raimunda calls to tell her that Paco is gone forever. Her mom does not want Raimunda or anyone else to know that she is alive. SHe only trusts Sole. The mother tells Sole that the idyll with her husband was all fiction: he cheated on her, in particular with Agustina's mother. So she sets fire to the house and killed them both. Sole spends all the time taking care of her mother, who in return helps her run her hairdresser business, pretending to be a Russian immigrant. One day, though, Raimunda visits Sole and smells her mom's farts, but the old woman is afraid of her and still hides under the bed. The daughter asks Raimunda who her real father was and Raimunda admits that it wasn't Paco and that he's dead. Agustina calls Raimunda that she is at the hospital with cancer. She has a favor to ask Raimunda: having guessed that Raimunda's mom is alive she wants Raimunda to ask her what happened to Agustina's mom. Raimunda dismisses the whole idea as nonsense. Raimunda's mother reveals herself to Raimunda's daughter and explains that Raimunda avoided her as a teenager. In the meantime, Raimunda decides to bury Paco's corpse in the woods. Agustina knows that her mother was having an affair with Raimunda's father and wants to know what really happened. Agustina eve accepts to appears on a tv show to tell this morbid story. The producers have promised to pay her way to a hospital in the USA. But Agustina cannot find the guts to betray her best friends and refuses to tell the whole story. Sole finally tells Raimunda that their mom is alive ad living in her house. Mother and daughter finally reunite. The terrible secret that kept the two apart is that Raimunda was raped by her father and Paula is both her daughter and her sister. The mother reveals herself to Agustina too, and promises to take good care of her.

Los Abrazos Rotos/ Broken Embraces (2009), a minor film, is an overlong feuilleton that deals with jealousy, betrayal, and guilt.

The action takes place in 2008. "Harry Caine", the pseudonym chosen by Mateo, is a blind writer. A young blond girl reads the newspaper for him, He asks her to describe herself, gets turned on, and they have sex. Minutes later an older woman comes in, his agent Judit, and Harry explains that the young girl helped him cross the street and then stayed to read him the newspaper. The young girl, a little embarrassed, leaves. Harry is working on a script and promises to finish it in the morning. He just had a new idea after learning the real story of Arthur Miller's disowned son who still loved his father. Mateo/Harry then tells Judit one of the news that the girl read to him: a famous millionaire has died. The name makes an impression on Judit. Harry remarks that they haven't spoken about him in many years. Diego walks in, the woman's son. We see that his job is to dj in a nightclub where he is tempted by friend who do drugs. Harry listen to the news: the millionaire was ruined by scandal and left two sons. A flashback to 1992 shows us the old millionaire and his secretary Lena/ Magdalena the day when Lena had to leave to take care of her father, who was dying of cancer and was kicked out of the hospital because the doctor had decided to go on vacation. Lena needed money so she called a brothel's madame Mylene using the name Severine and told her that she was available. The first client who called her was... her boss, the millionaire. She recognized the voice and hung up. Her mom called her in the middle of the night that her father was in terminal conditions. Her boss who paid to hospitalize him in a private clinic.
Back to the present, Harry receives the strange visit of a young man who uses the nickname "Ray X" and who wants to write a script with him and then Judit negotiates a large sum that Ray X accepts to pay. (Is Harry really blind? Harry decides not to open the door after looking into the peekhole). Ray X wants to make a film about a son's revenge on his father's memory after the father ruined the life of the homosexual son. The son married twice, just like his father, and has a son who hates him as much as he hates his father. Clearly it's a story about himself. Harry doesn't want to do it and kicks him out. When Ray X leaves, Harry asks Diego to check the photos of the 1990s and sure enough Diego finds that the mysterious Ray X is the son Ernesto of the millionaire who just died. Diego also finds a photo of a young woman that we recognize as Lena. A flashback shows us that two years after the events of 1992 Lena has become the lover of the much older millionaire, while his wife Rosana is trying in vain to make him care about their homosexual son Ernesto. Back to the present, Judit calls Ray X and calls him Ernesto and threatens to call the police if he bothers Harry again. Judit has to travel to the USA and asks Diego to protect Harry from Ernesto but refuses to explain why Ernesto is dangerous. While Diego is working as the dj, friends offer him drugs and he overdoses. He falls into a coma but at the hospital recovers. Harry hides the accident from Judit. When Harry visits Diego at the hospital, Diego asks her why his mother is so scared of Ernesto. A flashback shows us what happened 14 years earlier, in 1994. Mateo is a film director and he is not blind yet. One day Judit announces that the millionaire's lover Lena and his teenage son Ernesto want to see him. Ernesto waits outside while Lena auditions. Back home, she tells the millionaire that she always wanted to be an actress. She rejects his marriage proposal. Mateo hires her for the part in the film, despite Judit's opposition. (The story of Mateo's film looks like a parody of Almodovar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). Lena is not a great actress but he is fascinated. The millionaire, jealous and suspicious, funds the film and asks Ernesto to make a documentary about the shooting of the film. Ernesto already looks very homosexual. Mateo and Lena become lovers, but she still has to feign being in love with the old man who is still madly in love with her. Judit is desperate because her little boy Diego suffers from a mysterious form of asthma. Ernesto keeps videotaping Lena on the set and the millionaire hires a lip-reader to understand what Lena and Mateo are saying to each other on the set. Thus he finds out not only about the love affair but also much she hates him. One night Lena, coming out of Mateo's residence, sees that Ernesto, loyal to his father's orders, is videotaping her even there and she tries to smash the camera. Then she composes herself and, looking straight into the camera, confesses her love for Mateo (we see it when the millionaire watches the footage in his living room). Later Lena tries to leave but he pushes her down the stairs. Injured, she cannot move. He takes her to the hospital. She promises to stay with him if he allows her to continue shooting and allows Mateo to finish the film. She then tells Mateo what happened and asks him to hurry up with the final scenes, which have to be modified because she is now confined to a wheelchair. One day she shows up full of bruises and bleeding after a fight with the old man, who kicked her out of the house. Mateo and Lena drive away and start a new life in a beach town, where he changes his name to Harry. They read in the newspapers that the millionaire has released the film to the movie theaters and they read that the reviews are terrible. Mateo thinks it's a trap to get her back and decides to ignore it, but it means the end of Mateo's career as a filmmaker. One night they are driving and another car hits theirs: Lena is killed and Harry/Mateo is left blind. Judit and the boy Diego come to pick him up from the hospital and take him back home. Back to the present, Harry ends his story showing Diego a few scenes from Lena's film, but he cannot believe that the scenes are so inept. (Is he blind? How can he see the movie?) Judit comes back in time to celebrate Harry's birthday. Judit confesses, crying, that in 1994 she helped the millionaire take his revenge on him: she helped him to sabotage the film before it was released. She did it out of jealousy. She also confesses that she told the millionaire where they (Lena and Harry) were hiding, and that the millionaire sent his son Ernesto to spy on them. Ernesto witnessed the deadly car accident and presumably filmed it for his father. Harry, who now calls himself Mateo again, calls Ernesto. Meanwhile, Judit makes another confession to her son Diego: that she was Mateo's lover and Diego is Mateo's son; and Mateo doesn't know. Mateo is at Ernesto's place and Ernesto is still filming him as he calls Judit, who makes another confession: she has the original reels of the film before they were sabotaged. Ernesto steps in front of the camera and declares that the documentary on Mateo ends there. Back home, Mateo shows Diego Ernesto's footage of Lena's last moments before the deadly car accident. Mateo and Diego compose the correct version of the film. We next watch a few hilarious scenes of that film, the ones made after Lena's fall from the stairs.

La Piel que Habito/ The Skin I Live In (2011) is a bold hybrid of crime thriller, sci-fi movie and horror movie, whose protagonist is a mix between Dr Frankenstein and a peeping tom. But the real protagonist is perhaps actually his victim, the "monster", whose ordeal is reveal only halfway into the film. Almodovar sets in motion a methodical plot that unfolds the story slowly, revealing a puzzle where it looked like there was a simple linear story. His torturer, the nominal protagonist, is a concentrate of ambition, revenge, voyeurism and necrophilia.

A pretty young girl works in a laboratory where she applies a skin-like material to casts of heads. Marilia serves her breakfast via a dumbwaiter. We can see that Marilia monitors somebody on two monitors. Robert, a plastic surgeon and inventor, lectures at a university about his method to restore the face to victims of burns. Back home, Robert spends some time experimenting in his laboratory before walking into his bedroom. We see a naked woman in a bed, but it is not his bed: it's a giant screen showing the pretty girl in another room. Robert walks into her room and tells her, Vera, to take some opium, but he finds that she has slit her wrist. He saves her life but she is doesn't want to live anymore. Marilia, his assistant, brings him a jug of blood taken from a live animal. He uses it to create a substance that he then experiments as artificial skin on a mannequin, and then on Vera's body. At another symposium with scientists, Robert describes his invention, which is not only resistant to fire but also to insect bites (and could therefore prevent malaria). He named it "Gal" because it was his wife's name, burned to death in car accident. During the reception following the symposium, Robert confesses to the president of the scientific association that he has genetically engineered a harder skin by using pig cells. That is "transgenesis" which is illegal. The president orders him to stop immediately the experiment, and Robert obeys... but it is clear that he didn't tell anyone that he is experimenting on a human, Vera. Back home he watches Vera on the giant monitor. Then she walks into her room to smoke opium with her. He tells her that the experiment is complete and that she now has the best skin in the world, but he doesn't know what to do with her. She is in love with him, and knows that he watches her like a voyeur on the monitor. She tries to seduce him but, annoyed, he leaves the room. Later Marilia tells him that he only has two options: kill Vera or keep her hidden forever. Robert orders Marilia to fire the entire staff. While Robert is out, a young man wearing a tiger costume shows up: he is Marilia's son Zeca. While they are having dinner together, they watch on television the news of a heist, including footage of a security camera that clearly shows the faces of the thieves, and one of them is Zeca. Zeca asks his mother to shelter him for a few days, and to convince Robert to operate on him and give him a new face. Marilia rules out the latter because Robert hates Zeca. Zeca sees Vera in the monitors and recognizes her. Marilia pulls out a gun to stop him but can't shoot her own son. Zeca, on the other hand, does not hesitate to bind and gag her so he can freely explore the house. Zeca unlocks Vera's room and Vera immediately tries to escape. He is surprised that she's alive because he saw her burn alive. He rapes her brutally and Marilia sees it on the monitors while she is tied to a chair. Zeca doesn't hear Robert park the car. Robert sees what is happening, grabs a gun and kills Zeca. Marilia sees it all on the monitors and hopes that he will kill both Zeca and Vera. While cleaning up the blood, Marilia reveals to Vera that Zeca and Robert are brothers: she had Robert from the master for whom she worked and she had Zeca from a fellow servant. The wife of the master was sterile so they adopted Robert as her son, but it was Marilia who spent her life taking care of him. The two men didn't know that they were half brothers but they played together as children. Zeca became a criminal already as a child, selling drugs in the slums, while Robert was raised to become a doctor. Marilia now reveals that Zeca recognized her as Robert's wife: Robert has given Vera his wife's face (the reason why he cannot simply let her go back into the world) and Zeca was the lover of his wife Gal. The two lovers tried to escape together but Zeca crashed the car. Zeca disappeared while Gal survived but horribly disfigured. The first time that Gal saw her face in a reflection she jumped from the window and killed herself in front of her daughter Norma. Years later Norma herself jumped from the window and killed herself. That's the origin of Robert's hatred for Zeca. Robert comes back after burying Zeca and this time he has sex with Vera (he is having sex with a replica of his dead wife!), although they have to stop because she's still hurting from Zeca's rape.
While Robert is sleeping next to Vera, a flashback shows us what happened six years earlier. His daughter Norma, still traumatized from her mother's suicide, was finally beginning to socialize when she was somehow involved in an night orgy in a garden and Robert found her unconscious. Now the scene shifts to two kids who work in a boutique, Vicente and Cristina. Vicente, who is the son of the owner, invites Cristina to go to a party with him but she's not interested in him. Vicente goes alone. At the party a stoned Vicente meets the naive Norma, who comically doesn't understand his references to drugs. Misunderstanding him, she lets him start sex but then panicks. He slaps her and leaves her unconscious. He then takes off on his motorcycle and now we realize that this is the moment when Robert finds Norma unconscious. The film follows Vicente back at the boutique. A van follows him when he leaves in the evening and hits him when he enters a isolated foresty road. A man comes out and shoots Vicente. Vicente wakes up handcuffed in a cell. The police find his motorcycle destroyed by the sea and assume that his body has been washed away by the tide. Norma doesn't recover from the trauma and is interned in a mental asylum. She is afraid of her father Robert: when he visits her, she hides in a closet. The psychologist explains to Robert that Norma identifies him with the rapist. Robert takes revenge on Vicente treating him like an animal. Meanwhile, Norma kills herself at the hospital. Robert, mad with grief, anesthetizes Vicente and operates on him, turning him into a woman. Robert moves Vicente to a regular patient room but still keeps him locked. Vicente wants to know why Robert is torturing him. Robert tells him that he is the father of the girl whom he raped. Vicente tries in vain to defend himself Robert's next step is to give Vicente the breasts and the face of a woman, and he picks his own wife Gal as the model for the face. After this new operation, Vicente tries to escape. Cornered by Robert with a gun, Vicente tries to kill himself by slitting his throat with a knife but Robert saves his life. After six year Vicente was successfully turned into Vera, a very attractive woman, and a replica of his late wife Gal. Marilia returned to serve Robert after a four-year hiatus and was told never to enter the room of the patient, just to monitor her through the monitors, and Marilia recognized Gal's face.
Back to the present, Robert wakes up to find a loving Vera serving him breakfast. They make a deal: she promises never to leave him, and he let her free around the house. He trusts her enough to let her go out with Marilia. she walks out of the house for the first time in six years. One of Robert's old assistants come to ask if he and others can rent the clinic from Robert, since Robert ostensibly does not uses it for experiments anymore. Robert rudely refuses. Before leaving, Fulgencio shows him the newspaper that talks about the missing people of the last few years. One of them is Vicente, who disappeared a few days before the sex-change operation that Fulgencio witnessed. His mother, owner of the boutique, is still searching for him. Fulgencio has guessed the truth: that Robert kidnapped Vicente and is secretly continuing his experiments. Robert is about to shoot Fulgencio when Vera walks in and tells Fulgencio that she is there voluntarily and always wanted to be a woman. She has now his full trust, and they have sex again, but she finds an excuse, grabs his gun and shoots him. Marilia hears the shot, grabs her own gun, finds Robert dead and looks for Vera, but Vera kills her first. The following morning she returns for the first time to the boutique where she used to work and meets Cristina who doesn't know that she's Vicente. In a few sentences she tells Cristina what happened to her in six years, and proves to her that she is Vicente telling her details that only Vicente can know. His mother walks in. Vera/Vicente, crying, tells her that she is Vicente.

Los Amantes Pasajeros/ I'm So Excited (2013)

Julieta (2016), based on three short stories by Alice Munro,

Dolor y Gloria/ Pain and Glory (2019) is nostalgic and melancholy, the story of a sick man who has lost enthusiasm for life. Unfortunately, it feels like lightweight DeOliveira cinema. Luckily the last scene creates multiple interpretations of the story with a quintessential postmodernist trick.

A man underwater in a swimming pool. Four women wash clothes by the river the old-fashioned way and then they dry them by hanging them on the vegetation: a little child, Salva, is with them. The man reemerges from the swimming pool: the adult Salva. A woman recognizes him, Salva. She is aging actress Zulema and tells him how difficult it is to find new parts at her age. Salva mentions that a film of 32 years earlier is being restored and he is invited to speak at the premiere. Zulema reminds him of the big argument that he had with an actor, Alberto. Salva admits that, having watched the film again, he actually likes the way Alberto acted, disobeying his orders. The two haven't spoken in 32 years but now Salva holds no grudges. A flashback shows how he became a singer in the children's choir of the church. His voice narrates how he became a filmmaker who travelled all over the world, and the many illnesses that have afflicted him throughout his life, everything from headaches to back pains. Salva visits Alberto after 32 years and asks him to join him at presenting the restored "Sabor". Alberto smokes heroin in front of him and Salva decides to try it for the first time. They are reconciled. A flashback shows little Salva with his mother Jacinta, one of the women of the early scene. They live with her mother-in-law but Jacinta feels unwelcome so she takes the child and moves to the town where his father works. Venancio can only afford an underground cave with a hole for roof, though. Jacinta is humiliated, but Salva loves it. Back home, his agent Mercedes wants to make sure he's ok with the event. Alberto shows up when Salva is having one of his headaches. Alberto witnesses an attack of coughing that almost kills Salva. They watch together a film in which two women are swimming and take more drugs. Salva almost passes out. Alberto browses the documents on his computer and clicks on one: it's a chapter of his memoir. We see Alberto enacting the scene that he is reading. Alberto needs to work. He asks Salva to make a play out of that chapter, but Salva is not interested. The day of the premiere Salva is stoned and Alberto is with him. They miss the premiere but they call in. Someone in the audience asks Salva about the old argument with Alberto. Salva, stoned and drunk, reiterates the old argument: that Alberto didn't keep his promise to stay away from heroin and played the part differently than they had agreed. Alberto grabs the phone and throws it on the floor and then they have a big argument and Alberto leaves furious. After 32 years they basically had the same argument again. Salva becomes even more misanthropic and depressed, and refuses to see even Mercedes. One day he leaves the house to buy drugs. A flashback shows when Salva as a child started teaching a bricklayer and a painter how to read and write. Eduardo repaid by painting the walls of the cave and fixing broken things. Salva was a tough coach, giving him a lot of homework. The adult Salva is getting addicted to heroin. He is depressed because he cannot film anymore due to his illnesses. His agent Mercedes is going through a divorce. A fashback shows how his mother obtained a scholarship at a seminary so that Salva could study, but Salva was scared of being forces to become a priest. Salva returns to Alberto with the script of the text that Alberto wanted to play. Salva gifts it to Alberto and wants no compensation. Alberto is happy and repays him with more drugs. Alberto is determined to do without drugs in order to succeed with Salva's script. The text is a monologue about Salva's love affair with a man, named Marcelo in the text, 30 years earlier, how Salva tried in vain for three years to win Marcelo's drug addiction with love, When Alberto debuts the piece in the theater, a man in the audience sheds a few tears. At the end he walks into Alberto's dressing room and introduces himself as Federico, the real Marcelo. Alberto calls Salva to tell him about Federico. The next phone call is from Argentina. It's Federico who tells him that he is in town only for one more day. Federico feels guilty because the text reveals how much Salva suffered because of him. Salva invites him over. Federico cleaned up in Argentina, got married and has two children, and is divorcing, and this is his first trip back to Salva's city. When Federico leaves, they kiss passionately and Salva can't hide the tears. Then Salva flushes the heroin down the toilet and calls Mercedes to make an appointment with the doctor. Seeing Federico made him realize that he is in the situation that Federico was in 30 years earlier. He confides in Mercedes and they visit together a doctor. Salva talks of back pain, headaches and depression (especially after the death of his mother four years earlier). Then he mentions the heroin addiction that he is trying to kick. Alone with the doctor, Mercedes also tells the doctor that Salva chokes easily: Salva doesn't know that another doctor said it could be caused by a tumor. Salva asks Mercedes to move in and gives her his mother's old room. A flashback shows his old mother in that room telling him what to do when she dies. She opened a box with the dearest memories of her life. She told him that in her opinion he never forgave her for sending him to study at the seminary. She was disappointed in him, and he was disappointed that she was disappointed of what he was. On her hospital bed she asked him to bring her back to her village, and he promised, but she died the following day at the hospital, alone. Mercedes takes him to get a head scan to find out why he chokes so often. The scan reveals no tumor but the problem requires surgery. She also hands him the flyer of an art exhibition: it's the sketch of a child sitting on a chair and reading a book. A flashback shows the child Salva with Eduardo when Eduardo sketched that very portrait of him (later Salva admired Eduardo's naked body when he took a shower in front of him and even fainted seeing his penis). Mercedes takes Salva to see the art exhibition. Salva buys the portrait: the gallery owner bought it at a flea market and doesn't know who made it. The back of the portrait still has the moving note that Eduardo wrote for Salva when he was in seminary, in which Eduardo was thanking him for teaching him to write. It's the first time that he reads it because his mother never gave it to him, and somehow the portrait ended up in a flea market, and that's why it remained anonymous. Suddenly, Salva finds the inspiration to start writing again. It is time for Salva's surgery. He falls asleep under anesthesia. The last scene is ambiguous. It shows Salva and his crew filming a scene that has two characters: Salva the child (exactly the same child actor) and Salva's mother (exactly the same actress). It could be that this is happening after the surgery: Salva is making a film of his own childhood. It could be that he is dreaming of doing it. It could be that all the flashbacks were part of the film that he is making and the main story we watched is actually a flashback of how he got to make the movie of his childhood.

The 30-minute short The Human Voice (2021) was adapted from Jean Cocteau's 1930 monodrama "La Voix Humaine" and his first English-language film.

Madres Paralelas/ Parallel Mothers (2021) is two stories in one with the same protagonist: a woman who loses her baby (twice) but finds the ghost of her greatgrandfather, a story in which the private and the political merge. The film is somber and often moving.

Janis is a photographer who is taking pictures of forensic archaeologist Arturo. She tells him that her great-grandfather and other men are buried in a mass grave outside her home village. They were early victims of the Spanish civil war of the 1930s. The whole town has always known and has been saving money to pay for the excavation. Arturo offers to support her case at a foundation specialized in such projects. They soon sleep together. Janis gets pregnant. At the hospital she meets a teenager who is also pregnant by accident, Ana. Janis is happy to become a single mother, Ana is desperate. Janis' best friend Elena (also her agent) comes to visit Janis, and Ana's mother Teresa comes to visit Ana: an aspiring actress who is auditioning for an important theatrical part. They two women give birth at the same time. Both have girls, and both girls are kept at the hospital in observation because of minor problems. Janis hires a live-in babysitter. Meanwhile, Ana is now happy that she had her baby, Anita. Teresa gets the part of protagonist but that involves traveling to other cities with the theater troupe. She can't say "no" because it's the chance of her life. But she also can't leave Ana alone. Teresa tries in vain to involve Ana's father, who lives by himself. Arturo shows up unexpected and wants to see his daughter Cecilia. A flashback shows us what happened when she got pregnant: he didn't want the child because his wife was undergoing cancer treatment and she insisted on raising the child as a single mother. Arturo is disappointed by Cecilia, who doesn't look like him at all. He demands a paternity test. Janis is hurt and offended, but, back home, she secretly orders a maternity test, and the test shows that she is not the biological mother of her baby Cecilia. Her first impulse is to tell Arturo and Ana, but then she doesn't. At the same time Janis is having problems with her live-in babysitter, and she has a new job through her friend Elena. Janis runs into Ana at a cafe where Ana works as a waitress. Ana's mother Teresa now has a successful career and Ana decided to move out and find a job. Ana doesn't mention her baby. Ana visits Janis and finally tells Janis the truth: her baby Anita died (which is really Janis' baby. Janis hires Ana as her new live-in babysitter. She also finds an excuse to collect her saliva, so she can order another maternity test. The test confirms that Ana is Cecilia's biological mother. Ana's mother Teresa comes to visit when Ana is out. Teresa admits to Janis that she was a bad mother because her priority was her acting. She divorced Ana's father who took custody of Ana and kept her away from Teresa until the day that she got pregnant. Only then did Ana's father sent Ana to Teresa. Ana and Teresa were strangers. Teresa tells Janis that Ana was traumatized. Alone with Ana, Janis tells her the story of her life: 27 overdose when she was a child and she never met her father she never met her father and she was raised by her granma after her mother died of an overdose. They kiss tenderly and make lesbian love. Now they are also lovers. One day they bring flowers to Anita's tomb and Ana reveals that she doesn't know who is Anita's father: three classmates raped her when she was drunk and high, and her father sent her to her mother to hide the whole incident, afraid of media attention. Janis is outraged that the father didn't report the rape to the police. Ana shows her the pictures of the three rapists and Janis silently identifies one as the likely father of her Cecilia, the real child of Ana and her rapist. Arturo comes to tell Janis that the foundation has approved the excavation of the mass grave. Arturo also mentions that he is divorcing and he told his wife about having a child from Janis. Janis returns home late after meeting Arturo and Ana feels jealous and cries. Janis finally shows Ana Ana the two maternity tests that prove that Cecilia is Ana's daughter. And Ana too easily identifies the real father in the picture of the three rapists. Ana is outraged that Janis kept the secret for so long. Ana calmly packs up and moves out, taking Cecilia with her, ignoring Janis' tears. Janis calls Arturo and shares the whole story with him: their baby is dead. Ana makes peace with Janis and allows her to see Cecilia. Some time later, Janis and Arturo drive to her home village to start work on the exhumation. Janis collects saliva from her old grand-aunt that will be essential to identify the remains of great-grandfather. Janis and Arturo interview the descendants of the men buried in the mass grave in order to collect information useful for identifying them. Janis and Arturo are lovers again. Arturo and his crew begin digging. Elena and Ana come to visit them. Janis tells Ana that she is three-month pregnant. Arturo's crew exhumes the skeletons and the villagers come to mourn them. The film ends with an image of the men lying dead in the grave as they were after they were killed.

Strange Way of Life (2023) is a 31-minute western short.