Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kissing Volver

kissing ~ a new series. *mwah*

Pedro Almodovar's filmography offers an abundance of affectionate hooks, but the kissing in Volver is one of his most ingenious. That double cheeked, loud repetitive smacking added so much to the humor and pathos to an already great film. The kissing served up an amusing blend of true intimacy and wary distance-keeping.

Let's take a look...would that this post also had sound!

Volver
begins in a cemetery where daughters busily clean their mothers' grave. Just as soon as they've packed up their supplies to head home it's suddenly girls gone wild ... with kissing!


The festive smacking is prompted by the entrance of Agustina (Blanca Portillo in green above), a friend to Volver's central family. She is the movie's loudest and most passionate kissing advocate. Agustina gives young Paula four kisses remarking "she's all grown up!", Raimunda (a justly Oscar nominated Penelope Cruz) gets two. Finally Agustina meets her match as she embraces Sole (the wonderful Lola Dueñas in blue). Sole's smooches are the only rivals to Agustina's in enthusiasm and volume. They trade five (five!) noisy smackeroos. It sounds like ten.

And then the ladies are off to see Aunt Paula (Chus Lampreave, FB cameo gold medalist)


This possibly senile old woman is pickier about her cheek-to-cheek time. Raimunda gives her dear Aunt six affectionally received kisses. Aunt Paula then cheerfully trades two with Raimunda's daughter, noticing their shared name. Warily, she accepts two cheek pecks from Sole.

Aunt Paula's instant distrust of this forgotten niece is one of the movies funniest jokes. Immediately following the kiss she proclaims to Raimunda...
That Sole looks like one right sourpuss
A line that's even funnier than its delivery since Sole (pictured, right) almost always has a genuinely good-natured expression plastered on her face.

Aunt Paula remains unconvinced about this Sole character as they all say goodbye. To Raimunda she gives a huge hug complete with six kisses again, two simple kisses go to the younger Paula and, with a rather confused "must I?" expression on her face, the forgetful woman succumbs to two cheek-to-cheeks from the sourpuss.


Raimunda blows her ancient Auntie a kiss and heads out the door. Next stop: Agustina's across the street.

Agustina restrains herself when her friends arrive and lets her lips busy themselves with chatting. She also offers up a doobie. Her first kiss in this scene is actually delivered from lips to fingers to a photo on the wall. The woman in the photo is her long missing and possibly dead mother -- "the only hippie in the village" she proudly notes. Agustina, who is sickly herself, is in some ways the bridge character between the living and the dead in Volver so it's fitting that she kisses them, too.

When the sisters take their leave Agustina's lips attack again. Four kisses each for Raimunda and Paula. And another competitive kiss-a-thon with Sole, six kisses shared.


Will the kissing ever end? We're only 15 minutes into the movie and the kiss counter has reached an incredible...


There's a whole lot of lip smacking in Volver --has there ever been a movie with more kissing? Plant another one on me Pedro, please.
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~if you love this post, please link it or email to friends.
Spread the love as freely as Agustina spreads kisses!~
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27 comments:

Kamikaze Camel said...

teehee, that's cute.

I love the bit where Chus Lampreave pulls back from the kiss.

J.D. said...

You are a genius. And having just re-watched this a few days ago, it actually make sense to me. 47? Holy cow. This should turn into a series of things that happen amazingly a lot before the 20:07 mark. That'd be very interesting, wouldn't it?

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

The post-funeral kissing deluge was one of my favourite [of the many] bits of utter nutty genius in Volver. I don't think this one was given enough credit. It's so unshowily spot-on about the things that tradition and superstition do to rural life in poorer countries. In my eyes, it's one of Pedro's full-blown masterpieces, just about on the same level as Talk to Her and All About My Mother. And like all his work, it only improves on further viewings.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I can't wait to see how many kisses Pedro puts into that movie where Antonio Banderes takes revenge on the plastic surgeon who botched his daughter's face up. If he even gets to make it.

Deborah said...

...and the kisses were loud. I thought something was wrong with my TV. It was like, dialogue, dialogue SMACK SMACK dialogue SMACK.

But Sole was a sourpuss.

NATHANIEL R said...

goran --absolutely agreed about PEDRO's movie(s) improving on 2nd viewing. this one has gotten better each time and even i'm too blame for underrating them.

when you make a lot of masterpieces even you're ardent fans are like "it's great but it's not AS GREAT AS..."

Middento said...

Nathaniel, I am totally making my class read this posting after they watch Volver later this semester. I was going to point out the kissing, particularly the backing up by Chus, but you've done much better than I. Bravo!!

rural juror said...

This is why Almodovar's movies are always such a joy to watch. They're full of joy and life....sigh. I love that man.

Benigno Martín said...

This Film is sooo overrated. It is trite and irrelevant. And that's strange for a great director like Almodovar. Pan's Labyrinth and Lives of Others are far superior. I'm Glad Lives of Others won the Oscar.

Benigno Martín said...

And I must tell you that Almodovar is an ASSHOLE. Many in Madrid have seen the real Almodovar.

NATHANIEL R said...

benigno ---well... whether or not an artist is an asshole in real life doesn't much matter when it comes to their art. The majority of people alive will never meet the man but we can all enjoy the movies.

deborah --i wish i had done sound with this post! i am trying to figure it out ;)

kamikaze --why wouldn't pedro get to make it? you worried me

middento and j.d. -- thank you

Kamikaze Camel said...

How is Almodovar "irrelevant"?

Nat I just meant that this movie has been among the rumour mill for a few years now and it's not on Almdovar's IMDb page so who knows if it's a real project that he'll bring to fruition or just some crazy rumour that Penelope and Antonio were spreading. (she apparently told him to stand by the phone for a call from Almodovar)

NATHANIEL R said...

well bad education finally got made (that one was talked about for aeons if i recall correctly) so he'll eventually get around to it.

as much as i loved Penelope in this i really really really hope he returns to victoria abril at least once more.

i might die of happiness if we could get all 5 of his lead muses: maura, abril, roth, cruz and paredes in the same movie

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

Love this movie. Love this post!

smugguy said...

Such a superb film. I too was stunned on second viewing. At first you're amazed at how the story shifts and evolves to be something new at each turn, and so effortlessly. Then on looking back at the film again, you see how each scene plays so essentially into the overall arc and is scripted so carefully. These characters and their situations come to be so achingly beautiful and touching, no matter how absurd or melodramatic they seem to objectively. Do we have any word on Almodovar's next project, other than Penelope Cruz insinuating another collaboration?

NATHANIEL R said...

smugguy, welcome...

yes the evolution of the story is one of the strengths. Particularly love the way the rug is pulled out from under the audience but in the most natural nonagressive non 'LOOK HERE, A TWIST!' way

Arkaan said...

Really? The moment Nathaniel refers to really undermined my enjoyment of the film. And I was really liking it before

NATHANIEL R said...

if you haven't seen the movie DO SO NOW since we're getting into

*SPOILERS*

arkaan,
i'm curious why that turned you off... the temporality of Irene as opposed to a haunting. It seems so natural to the ideas within the movie and a gentle comeuppance for the audience usually trained to suspend disbelief and watching a movie rife with superstitious people

Benigno Martín said...

Camel: I never said Almodovar is irrelevant. Please read carefully--the film is irrelevant.

Nathaniel: Re: Almodovar being an asshole, those words were for rural juror. I suggest we admire his work, not the man. He is a major ASSHOLE.

I am shocked that people consider this a superb film. Not so. It is very strange to see gay bloggers keep insisting that it is an amazing film. It is ok, better than most, but not exceptionally great. No real substance. And a step back for Spanish culture. Almodovar has been out done by younger, more creative and provocative Spanish and Latin directors.

I love Victoria Abril and not just because she is from my wonderful country of Spain. She should stay away from Almodovar and work with a director like Alfonso Cuarón. Almodovar needs to start creating better art. He will always have his gay fanboys, but he needs to go beyond that.

NATHANIEL R said...

what does being gay have to do with loving VOLVER?

I hate to argue with the childish tactic "everyone agrees!" but i'm really perplexed to hear such an anti consensus statement ('almodovar needs to create better art to go beyond his gay fanboys') coming in response to 8 years straight of what most critics consider Almodovar's most consistently masteful period

ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, TALK TO HER, BAD EDUCATION, VOLVER

yeah, Almodovar really needs to try harder. what a waste of a decade [/sarcasm]

I don't mean to be rude but come on now...

Arkaan said...

[b]SPOILERS FOR VOLVER[/b]

For me, the effect of the twist (the fact that Carmen Maura is alive, not dead) was to literalize what went on before. What was a bizarre, but tonally beautiful tragicomedy switched gears with that plot twist (alongside the reveal of Raimunda's/Paula's familial identity). By literalizing the ongoings, I started thinking seriously about whether or not the characters were having credible psychological reactions to what was going on. Paula kills her "father" in the beginning, but really - she suffers no guilt over her actions, she doesn't seem all that different as a result of them. Ditto Raimunda. Because everyone was losing credibility as characters, the film started seriously losing me as a viewer.

More briefly, by making the film's most etheral element real, the movie forced to me try and see everything else as real. I couldn't do that, and it disappointed me in the end. Still a solid/good movie, just not a really great one, imo.

Kamikaze Camel said...

That really is quite ridiculous. And we can respect Almodovar as a person if we wish. I don't personally know the man, so I respect and adore him for his work.

And plenty of heterosexuals loved Volver just as much his gay audience.

smugguy said...

I find the film to be full of substance; the resilience of women, the cultural impacts of death, mother/daughter relationships, revisiting the past... It may not take the heftier subjects on as directly as some other Almodovar films, but that's (to quote Sole) oodles more than many films offer, Spanish or otherwise. If anything as "gay bloggers" we should respect gay filmmakers who go beyond making films solely for gay audiences about gay characters. His work is so dynamic because it often refuses to be what's expected.

name said...

Nice Article.

The Art Of Kissing said...

So many kiss...

The Art Of Kissing said...

http://the-art-of-kissing.blogspot.com

sweety said...

I haven't seen Volver! But I will! Hope to find there some new kind of kiss:)