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Spanish director Pedro Almodovar said on Friday that Hollywood's "straitjacket" production system held little attraction for him as a filmmaker when compared to the freedom he enjoys in Europe. The Oscar-winning director, who has won dozens of international awards with his Spanish-language movies, has returned to his family roots with the bittersweet comedy Volver (Returning) at the Cannes Film Festival, and he says he has yet to see a proposal for a film in English that he'd like to shoot.
"There is always a temptation to shoot in English. But I was never proposed a film that interested me enough," Almodovar, speaking through a translator, told reporters in Cannes after the presentation of Volver. "I'm afraid that in Hollywood I would not have the same freedoms as in Europe. If I was to shoot in English, it would not be in Hollywood, but elsewhere where there is less of a straitjacket production system," he said.
Almodovar said Volver took him back to his childhood in Spain's central region of La Mancha and was largely inspired by his sisters and late mother. Featuring an almost exclusively female cast, the film tells the story of Raimunda (Penelope Cruz), a feisty housewife, and her sister Sole (Lola Duenas), a hairdresser, who are being visited by the very lively ghost of their dead mother.
Almodovar said talk of appearances from dead loved ones was not unusual in his home village, where women cultivated memories of the departed and spent time tending to graves--often even their own before they are interred. "Cleaning my grave relaxes me," one cheerful woman says in the film as others around her scrub, brush, and polish their family tombstones.
Although Volver deals with death, betrayal, and incest, it also has plenty of comedy, as in a scene when the sisters' ghostly mother, played by Carmen Maura, requests a haircut when she sees her image in the mirror. "I wanted to show a ghost on a daily basis. A ghost that goes to the bathroom, hides under the bed, and even farts in the film," Almodovar said.
The film marks Cruz's return to Spanish cinema after spending the last few years establishing an international career in Hollywood. Cruz has already starred in Almodovar's All About My Mother, which won an Oscar for best foreign language film. "There is only one Pedro for me," Cruz said. "I wouldn't have been the same one without him... It's amazing how he knows how we feel and think... He has a special eye for that."
The film also reunites Almodovar with Maura after a 17-year split. The actress starred in many of the director's films, including 1988's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. "When we met for the first rehearsal, it was like it always had been," Maura said. "I was astonished because I was not sure whether we could have the same chemistry." (Kerstin Gehmlich, Reuters)
resists Hollywood "straitjacket"