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Broken Embraces

54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A luminous Penélope Cruz stars as an actress who sacrifices everything for true love in BROKEN EMBRACES, Academy Award® -winning filmmaker (2003, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Talk to Her) Pedro Almodóvar's acclaimed tale of sex, secrets and cinema. When her father becomes gravely ill, beautiful Lena (Cruz) consents to a relationship with her boss Ernesto (José Luis Gómez), a very wealthy, much-older man who pays for her father's hospitalization and provides her a lavish lifestyle. But Lena's dream is to act and soon she falls for the director of her first film - a project bankrolled by her husband to keep her near. Upon his discovery of the affair, Ernesto stops at nothing to ruin Lena's happiness.

Pedro Almodóvar continues to reinvent Hollywood's Golden Age for a new era with Broken Embraces. A blind screenwriter in the present day, Mateo Blanco, a.k.a. Harry Caine (Lluís Homar), reminisces about his favorite leading lady to his assistant, Diego (Tamar Novas). In 1992, when Caine met Lena (Penélope Cruz), stockbroker Ernesto (José Luis Gómez) had just made the cash-strapped secretary his mistress. First, Ernesto pays for her mother's medical care; then he supports her dream to act. In the process, Caine casts her in his screwball comedy and falls in love, and a passionate affair begins. Ernesto suspects something is up, so he hires his shifty son, Ernesto Jr. (the off-key Rubén Ochandiano), to film the couple surreptitiously, and a lip reader translates their conversations. Caine's production manager, Judit (Volver's Blanca Portillo), further complicates the scenario. By the end, Caine, whose name serves as a tip of the hat to hard-boiled author James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice), has lost his vision and his girl, and the culprit isn't as obvious as it seems. With Embraces, Almodóvar riffs on Tinseltown classics where greed and lust lead to death. If less successful than Live Flesh, a prior noir, his jigsaw storytelling remains just as riveting and his principal cast rises to the occasion, particularly Cruz, who plays a more passive character than usual and remains, much like Otto Preminger's Laura before her, a mystery that no one, not even the filmmaker, can ever completely solve. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Stills from Broken Embraces (Click for larger image)

Special Features

Deleted Scenes
"The Cannibalistic Councillor” a short film by Pedro Almodóvar
Pedro Directs Penélope
On the Red Carpet: The New York Film Festival Closing Night
Variety Q&A with Penélope Cruz

Product Details

  • Actors: Penélope Cruz, Lluís Homar
  • Directors: Pedro Almodóvar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish, French
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • DVD Release Date: March 16, 2010
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,471 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Broken Embraces" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Harry Caine is a blind screenwriter, watched over by his former production assistant, Judit, and her son, Diego. His simple routine is upset when he hears of the death of a wealthy tycoon, and is later visited by the dead man's son in disguise. Pressed by Diego to explain, Harry recounts the tragic tale of how he, then known as Mateo Blanco, had fallen in love and had an affair with the tycoon's former lover, when she played a role in a film he was then directing, and of the accident that left him blind. The story itself is convoluted but clear enough - and I can't quite understand all the complaints about the story being confusing since film noir often tells a story within a story and keeps the audience guessing. Things are resolved in the end, and nearly every loose strand is tied. This one adds to the usual complexities a reflection on cinema, and two films within the film, and explores what it takes to revisit and remake the past so as to go on living.

It is a very poignant and at times quite amusing film about memory, lies, double lives, jealousy and revenge. Beautifully filmed with the eye for vibrant color and beauty that Almodovar is known for, the film also serves as a reminder of the changes in film technology that have occurred over the past few decades, and of the changes that have taken place in Almodovar's own style as a filmmaker, given that the film within the film suggests the more melodramatic and stylized work of his past. The film within a film bears a striking resemblance to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the film that placed Almodovar on the world stage as one of the most intriguing of auteurs.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2010
Format: DVD
In "Broken Embraces", Pedro Almodovar rehashes a lot of themes and devices from his earlier films to create a pastiche that is pleasant enough but not as strong as his more daring and original works. Harry Caine (Lluis Homar) is a blind screenwriter who had been film director Mateo Blanco before he lost his sight. Now he dictates screenplays to his assistant Diego (Tamar Novas), the son of his longtime manager Judit (Blanco Portillo), who wishes Harry would write scripts for more popular genres. One day as aspiring filmmaker (Ruben Ochandiano) proposes that Harry collaborate on a script about a son who avenges himself on his detested father posthumously. That inspires Harry to tell Diego the story of how he fell in love and lost his sight 14 years earlier, a subject of which he has not spoken in all those years.

In 1994, Harry met Lena (Penelope Cruz), the beautiful mistress of financier Ernesto Martel (Jose Luis Gomez), when he directed her in her first film, a comedy called "Girls and Suitcases". They fell in love and incurred Ernesto's wrath. The film shifts back and forth, between 1994 and 2008, as Diego takes in the story, and Judit grows wary of what Harry might tell him. Harry and Lena's affair is deliberately clichéd, but I waited for Almodovar to give it his unique spin. Unfortunately, it never quite delivers. Lena seems more an object than a fully realized character, which might be fitting, as she is in Harry's memory. But as a main character, she is underwritten. Jose Luis Gomez is perfect as a man in the grip of obsession for Lena, so much so that I wish Ernesto had a more prominent role.

Sometimes Pedro Almodovar has a stroke of brilliance.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Muzzlehatch VINE VOICE on February 18, 2010
Format: DVD
Harry Caine (Lluis Homar) is a blind screenwriter leading a quiet life in 2008 Madrid who is brought back - rather against his will - to contemplating the events of 1994 that changed his life when one of the people intimately involved in them, a rich industrialist named Ernesto Martel (José Luis Gómez) has died. He starts to open up to his young friend Diego (Tamar Novas), the son of his agent Judit (Blanca Portillo) about Magdalena (Penélope Cruz), first an employee of Martel and then his mistress, who came into his life as a would-be actress and ended up much more. And through the telling, secrets involving Diego and his mother also come to light, tragedies and perhaps resolutions that had lain dormant for a decade and a half...

Although I don't have any truly enormous complaints about BROKEN EMBRACES, I don't have a whole lot that's really wonderful to say about it either. This feels to me like Almodóvar running on autopilot; all of the major themes of his past several films (haunting pasts, accidents and illnesses and disabilities, the life of the writer, the sacrifices women have to make) are in evidence here but there isn't much that's fresh or interesting in his handling of any of them, many of the revelations are telegraphed a mile away (if you can't figure out Diego's secret before the halfway point you probably haven't seen ten movies in your life), and the emotions seem muted and dry. There's little of his earlier trademark panache or humor, and the film seems to move relentlessly towards a fairly predetermined ending which comes off as too easy and not necessarily believable or even deserved..
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