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Broken Embraces

4.2 out of 5 stars 62 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:
  • 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 (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,397 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Broken Embraces" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 23, 2010
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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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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Format: DVD
In parts, I really enjoyed `Broken Embraces', but as a whole it felt very underwhelming. The characters are there, but they aren't completely woven into the fabric of the film, and the ending in particular seemed sloppily put together and underwritten. Some of the character integration felt `off' from the primary focus of the film and so it took away from the end result. It leaves you waiting for a resolve that it appears was never truly intended.

`Broken Embraces' tells the story of a screenwriter named Mateo Blanco who falls in love with the mistress of a very jealous and ultimately dangerous man; Ernesto Martel. Ernesto is a stockbroker who takes the luminescent Lena as his mistress when she finds herself in desperate need of money. Ernesto cares for her concerns and, in return, she gives herself to him. Lena's dream is to one day become an actress, and so when she hears of an audition for one of Mateo's pictures, she takes a leap of faith that winds up in her favor, since Mateo is instantly smitten by her endearing charm and undeniable good looks. Despite Ernesto's concerns, Lena takes the part and soon she falls into a passionate affair with Mateo.

The affair ends badly, and as a result Mateo loses the girl and his sight and his name; going by the name Harry Caine instead.

Pedro Almodovar is not a director I am entirely familiar with. I think I've seen four of his films, and three of them have been made post-2000. So, with that in mind, I am not really familiar with his overall style. It is apparent from what I have seen (outside of `Talk to Her') that he embraces the soap operatic aspects of his culture and infiltrates that into his work. I guess there is a tad of that in `Talk to Her' as well, but it is certainly tamed down.
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