Los abrazos rotos/Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)
Talking cures
in Spanish cinema 1973–2010
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In an extended flashback sequence in Pedro Almodóvar's Los abrazos rotos/Broken Embraces, a brief dialogue between the would-be actress and filmmaker crystallises essential aspects of the film's complex narrative structure. The emphasis on the staging of story-telling acts suggests an important duality in characters' speech that links the personal with the social. The function of speech is cathartic and ultimately restorative, proposing through words to illuminate the conflicts that underlie surface symptoms and thereby to effect a 'cure'. After the initial sequences in filmmaker's apartment, the narrative evolves through three clusters of scenes of embedded voice dramas. These theatrical speeches self-referentially dramatise for the audience the dual acts of speaking and listening, placing cinema's conventional emphasis on seeing at a remove. They also provide a symmetrical structure with two scenes in which male characters seek to control the telling, and two by women.

Spanish cinema 1973–2010

Auteurism, politics, landscape and memory

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