Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Signatures: Penélope Cruz

Adam of Club Silencio here with a look at my favorite actresses and their distinguishing claims to fame.

If for some unjust reason Penélope Cruz should lose the Supporting Actress Oscar, I know she'll handle it well. Throughout her career she's learned to make the best of a bad situation. Not to say it won't take some time...


It wasn't all that long ago that Penélope was an actress lost in translation. Beautiful and effortless in Spanish; beautiful and trying in English. In short time and with the help of some great directors, Penélope's become a sensational bilingual stunner. I'm convinced it's because of that positive attitude. Even as a nun impregnated by an HIV-positive transvestite, or a teenage prostitute giving birth on public transport, Penélope finds such splendid ways to deal with cinema's most dire debacles.

Penélope's character Maria Elena, her nominated role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is on the path of self destruction once her lover takes another. But give her some time and that bitter hatred of the world and Scarlett Johansson magically transitions into artistic inspiration and mutual bisexual lust. Penélope's all about learning and personal growth.

"What did they say in art school? They said I was a genius... I'm not talking about talent. I said genius. Gee-nee-us. Gee-nee-us."

Her fruitful collaborations with Pedro Almodóvar have yielded her greatest tragedies, but also her greatest optimism. Penélope's transcendent turn as Raimunda in Volver pits her against all sorts of obstacles as a mother forced to cover the death of her deadbeat husband, cope with the sexual abuses of her past, and deal with the possibility that her dead mother still wants closure. Trying times indeed, but Raimunda turns that tragedy into triumph. She opens her dream business and manages to heal old wounds. "I felt like I knew women like that, and I love that she refuses to be a victim," says Penélope, "I love the dignity that Pedro gave her in the script, and I just wanted to give her that."


Penélope has already completed work on Almodóvar's latest, Broken Embraces, and prepared for the inevitable misery with that same distracting idealism, "I think every day changes you a little bit and makes you learn something new. Now maybe from the outside that change can be seen like a silent thing, but I think we're constantly moving forward, evolving, changing and learning."

Of course she's right. If you can survive Bandidas, you can survive anything. Just give Penélope some time. And the Oscar.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes! I will be so disappointed if Cruz loses the Oscar. She is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the nominees. If it's this obvious to me, hopefully the Academy members will see things similarly.

el princeso said...

I remember the first time I saw her in a film. It was back in 1992in Jamón, Jamón (in Spain, where I live). She had just been a TV presenter until then, but when I saw her in that film I knew she was going to make the cross-over sooner or later and probably get a nomination for the Oscar. Everyone said "yeah, sure..." but I just kenw it would happen one day.

There are some highly recommendable Spanish films from the 90s where she's already at the top of her game; unfortunately, some of them have never been released on DVD here, like Todo es Mentira or Brujas.

BBats said...

I just finished watching Volver about 20 mins ago. It was great, and I loved the "ghost" angle. Plus she was smoking hot in it. I need to see Live Flesh. Almodóvar+Cruz (or anyone for that matter)=great film. Can't wait for Broken Embraces and now I'm excited to see Vicky Christina Barcelona on dvd.

Hayden said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

please don't forget to talk about NINE

Kamikaze Camel said...

Yeah, I really hope she wins the Oscar. I really loved Davis, but I'd rather see Cruz take the statue.

Broken Embraces is a title I'm very much looking forward too, although it'll be a hard task to improve upon Volver.

Pablete said...

Would not you prefer to see her winning in lead for an Almodovar movie, following Sophia Loren's and Marion Cotillard's vogue?

BeRightBack said...

I think her nadir is definitely Gothika, not Bandidas, which at least looks like it was fun to film.

18 Year Old Blogger said...

I will be the first person to say that 3 years ago, I wished that Cruz would have stopped doing English movies. I didn't like her at all, and thought she was horrible. It wasn't until I saw Volver that I realized how amazing she is in her native tongue. I gave her my win for that year and well, I nominate her for VCB and I thought she deserved the praises she got for Elegy. Never have I turned from disliking an actress to liking an actress more than Cruz.

I cannot wait to see her in Nine and Broken Embraces.

Cocoa Dior said...

Penelope is a force in Vicky Christina Barcelona, and now with Winslet out of the way, there is NO REASON to give it to anyone else (even at the expense of Viola, love her!)

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

Thank you for articulating exactly what I love about Penelope Cruz and why I wanted her to win in '06, and why I want her to win now. No actress continues to improve and improve upon her work like she does.

Kurtis O said...

"Beautiful and effortless in Spanish; beautiful and trying in English. In short time and with the help of some great directors, Penélope's become a sensational bilingual stunner." -- SO true. I remember watching "Volver" and wondering if she'd ever find or be able to tackle any English language work that even came close. Then Woody Allen came knocking. I love that Penelope has so completely proved wrong anyone who ever called her just another pretty face. I've been rooting for Viola Davis but, lately, I've been thinking that I haven't seen a Cruz acceptance speech all season (or, um, ever). It's time.

Derek said...

Ugh, I'm SO worried for her. She does seem like the obvious choice, but I just fear that she won't win :(:(:(

Anonymous said...

Pe deserves to win, she is an amazing actress... you only have to watch "Jamon, Jamon" and you fall in love with her....

But I have the feeling that the academy members are gonna give her a nasty surprise... and I will be very disappointed....

Iggy said...

I was checking out on IMDB when The Hi-Lo Country was made (how didn't Frears see her talent then?) and I came across the backstage photogallery at the SAG Awards. It's no great discovery, but I love these actors gatherings. Where else can you see Rourke with his arm on Angelina's shoulder?

http://www.imdb.com/media/index/rg415406592?page=1

or Pfeiffer as if saying, "yes b....es, but next year is my year"

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3441723904/rg415406592

Kamikaze Camel said...

Pablete, considering there was, what? 50 years or so between Loren and Cotillard and I don't think we should expect another foreign language best actress winner for a few years yet.