Motherlands
Volver
in The cinema of Pedro Almodóvar
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Reviewers of Volver were distracted by its autobiographical dimension and local colour, aspects that mask the film's engagement with the silencing of the past, the ramifications of unaddressed trauma, and the specularisation of girls and women in cinema and society in general. Volver employs mother–daughter relationships to critique the persistence of patriarchal structures in contemporary Spain. This chapter analyses repeated intergenerational sexual violence as symptomatic of the persistence of Franco's ideological regime well into the democratic era, arguing that, as with other comedies by Almodóvar, Volver's genre and pop aesthetic disguise these serious topics. The overt comedy, much of it eschatological, performs an act of amelioration and diffusion of painful events by resorting to abjection. Volver’s deceptively simple narrative structure seems a comic relief of sorts within Almodóvar's latter career, but it is both a (historical and biographical) memory object and a screen memory for trauma that contains as complex a take on the haunting of the present by past events as preceding films with seemingly more complex plots.

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