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gaze returns to women in his new film

gaze returns to women in his new film

Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, known for twisted, eccentric comedies set in modern Spain, returns in his latest movie to a subject he loves: women. Volver, which is Spanish for the verb "return," is a tale of troubled relations among three generations of women--the female lead played by Penelope Cruz, her mother, and Cruz's character's teenage daughter. The film was screened for journalists on Monday and opens to the public in Spain on Friday.

So problematic are the ties that the grandmother, played by veteran Spanish actress Carmen Maura, comes back from the dead to resolve outstanding issues with Raimunda, a beautiful and feisty character played by Cruz. The reunion takes place after Cruz and her daughter travel from Madrid to their old village in La Mancha, the arid, conservative region of central Spain where Almodovar grew up in the '50s and '60s, to visit the grandmother's grave. Men play an insignificant role in this flick.

"Volver is a film of actresses," Almodovar, 56, told reporters after the viewing. He was accompanied by Cruz and Maura, both of whom have appeared in other Almodovar films. This is his 16th.

He described Cruz's character as a "Sophia Loren type of housewife, wearing low-cut clothes, full of life and courage." Almodovar is often described as a women's director because many of his films have revolved around strong, sympathetic female characters--a demographic sector he has described as "more amusing and luminous" than men. Almodovar's All About My Mother won the Academy Award for best foreign film in 1999, and Talk to Her won the Oscar for best original screenplay in 2003. (AP)

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