Almodovar makes women's pieces better than anyone working today, including all the women who come to mind immediately. He's as good as Bergman or Serf or Cukor or Minnelli or De Sica or Rossellini or Visconti or Renoir at telling women's stories. Yes, those are all men, but I hold that when a man makes a movie about women, that captures that feeling of awe and wonderment, tinged with fear that all men have when faced with the closed world of women, together, they make films that communicate to both men and women that very starry-eyed amazement, which makes for truly interesting film. Men see groups of women from the outside, and that's a powerful stance to take when making observations. Those observations may be completely wrong, but they are often fused with the mystery that makes great art.
A lot of viewers seems to be focusing on Penelope Cruz's performance (which is great), but I do found every one of the women in this film to be extremely fabulous, and I utterly believed the completely absurd story they all are truly living. Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, and Chus Lampreave should all be receiving rave notices equally. My favorite spice in the film was "Gorda Regina," Maria Isabel Diaz, who was as real as anyone has ever been on film. The shot of her sleeping, exhausted, in the cab of the truck, by the drying riverbed, after having done heavy labor and incriminating herself for her neighbor and friend is pure cinematic poetry. I want to know how Almodovar made that shot. The subtle colors in that one picture are stellar in their quality. I think I would actually hang a still of that on my wall. Friends like that are true angels.
Once again, Pedro has told us a story from the hermetic world of the harem. The women take care of one another, and practice their own special kind of private justice, based on a code which seems to come right out of their "Y" chromosome. They are unfathomable. Their reasoning inchoate, but rational, the key to its understanding just out of reach to those of us without the same cellular chemistry. As a friend, with whom I saw the film, said, "Men are unnecessary." For Pedro's women, that seems true. Men are bumbling, thoughtless oppressors, who are of little more use than to offer sperm for procreation. It's not a new message, but one that's handed us most stylishly and palatably by this amazing director which I, for one, am glad that I've not only seen and but also own.