Film / Volver

Volver is a 2006 film by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar starring Penélope Cruz and Carmen Maura (the names are significant if you are at all aware of Spanish film for the past 30 years, or their relationship with Almodovar). Cruz plays Raimunda, a thirty something living in Madrid. She and her sister Sole (short for Soledad, "loneliness") return to the village of their birth in La Mancha for their aunt's funeral. There are rumors that the ghost of the two sisters' mother, Irene (Maura), who died in a house fire alongside their father, haunts the village; a local woman, Agustina, claims she saw her with the aunt. Sole encounters Irene's ghost, who hides away in the trunk of her car. The ghost stays with her daughter, posing as an illegal immigrant working for Sole's salon.

For Raimunda, however, a crisis occurs when her husband, Paco, attempts to rape their daughter, Paula, and she kills him in self defense. This sets in motion a chain of events that involves prostitutes disposing of the body, Raimunda acquiring a restaurant, and Irene trying to find a way to resolve all the family issues she couldn't work through before her death.

The title, for those who do not speak Spanish, means "to return [to a place]."

This film provides examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts
  • Asshole Victim: Paco had his death coming. As did Irene's husband.
  • Bad Liar: Sole is such a terrible liar it's amazing she manages to bluff her way through the movie as long as she does.
  • Batman in My Basement
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Aunt Paula's importance in the story becomes more obvious after she dies.
  • Fanservice: At one point, there's a top-down shot that gives us a good view of Cruz' cleavage. When she's cleaning the knife used to murder Paco.
    • And again when she's putting on her makeup, just in her slip and a bra.
  • Foreshadowing: Quite a lot, which is more obvious when you rewatch the movie.
  • Genre Shift: The film manages to cover several very different areas of moviemaking like dark comedy, road movie, family drama and satire (the TV show where Agustina appears). Oh, and did we mention that it ends with the kinda chilling reveal that young Paula is the result of incest?
  • Ill Girl: Agustina, who has cancer.
  • Improbably Female Cast
  • Mama Bear: Raimunda - when she discovers Paco's dead body and Paula confesses she killed him, she immediately decides to take the blame and deal with the problem herself.
    • Irene burnt her husband's house to the ground with him and his lover inside it when she found out what he did to Raimunda.
  • Motifs: Wind turbines, standing in for windmills.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Agustina.
  • Parental Incest: Paco's attempted rape of Paula, resulting in his death. Raimunda herself was raped by her father years ago, resulting in the birth of Paula and his eventual murder.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Paula's almost always on her phone in the beginning of the movie.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Paula's hair reaches her waist.
  • Recurring Camera Shot: Some of the most iconic shots are the Penélope Cruz boob shots. The first is at the start of the film, and she is cleaning off a kitchen knife in the sink. The next time, she's cleaning the knife again but now of her husband's blood after her daughter/sister killed him.
  • Redemption Quest: Irene, who eventually reveals to Raimunda she came to apologise for not spotting and stopping the abuse she suffered by her father.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Irene has been alive all along, hiding out with her sister.
  • They're Called Personal Issues for a Reason: Augustine has this attitude about her mother's disappearance.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Raimunda and Sole, respectively.
  • Trailers Always Spoil
  • Uncanny Village
  • Untranslated Title