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Family secrets echo around a Spanish clan, ringing loud enough to rouse the dead, in Pedro Almodóvar's assured melodrama.

Drama 2005 121 mins

Director: Pedro Almodóvar


If he really is "Godard with a human face – a happy face", as Pauline Kael claimed, Pedro Almodóvar is at his happiest with this fusion of Hitchcock, Cervantes, poignancy and obscenity. Its rendered credible thanks to Penélope Cruz, the steely matriarch of the type once played by Carmen Maura, who here plays the disturbed spirit.

It's a melodrama, no mistake, with men weak and marginalised. That's a bonus, giving the characters space to blossom without the usual clunking obstacles that studios so frequently impose.