Favorites: The Flower of My Secret

The Flower of My Secret (1995)
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Written by Dorothy Parker, Pedro Almodóvar
Produced by Agustín Almodóvar, Esther García
Starring Marisa Paredes, Juan Echanove, Carme Elias, Chus Lampreave, Rossy de Palma, Manuela Vargas, Imanol Arias, Joaquín Cortés, Kiti Mánver
One can always expect eclat from an ensemble at Almodovar's command, and his histrions hardly disappoint in the umbra of Paredes' powerful performance as a genre novelist deluged by passions: torrid longing for her absent husband (Arias), a NATO lieutenant-colonel dispatched to belligerent Bosnia, concern for her spry and morbidly voluble mother (Lampreave), and diversion from the authorship of popular lightweight fare for which she's grown weary by a furor scribendi freshly inspired by chastened rancor. Cinematic melodrama has seldom if ever felt so plausible as when wrought by one of the medium's few remaining great storytellers, whose diegesis subtly predicates willing purblindness as a result of anonymity and rigidity. Secrets regarding authenticity, identity and infidelity are implied with gestures and aspects shortly preceding their revelations, but these are mere MacGuffins designed to conduce far more substantial realizations of love incipient and unrequited. Paredes' middle-aged resemblance to Lauren Bacall is terribly felicitous to their affinities of charisma and nice delivery; she emotes a sweep of elation, resentment, reflection, heartbreak without overplaying a frame. Brazilian DP Affonso Beato lenses Almodovar's characteristically gorgeous visuals with pizzazz, despite relatively muted hues (in contrast to his collaborations with José Luis Alcaine) to suit his story's diminished levity, most of which resides in the squabbles of the author's mother and nettled sister (the invariably divine de Palma). Pedro's devotees will immediately recognize the sordid premise of a purloined manuscript and a provincial Almagran locality, both of which were reused in one of his best ulterior movies.
Recommended for a double feature paired with Volver.

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