Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Broken Embraces


Starring: Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo and Lluís Homar
Pathé Distribution
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 01 February 2010

Harry Caine (Lluís Homar) is a blind writer, who is living under his fictional name and sharing his life with his agent Judit (Blanca Portillo) and her son Diego (Tamar Novas), who suffers an accidental overdose. While Harry is looking after him he recounts a story from ten years previous about when he met and fell in love with Magdalena Rivas (Penélope Cruz). But the affair was doomed from the start as Ernesto Martel (José Luis Gómez), is rich and powerful enough to ruin Harry’s film and both their lives...

Broken Embraces (2009 - 2 hr, 02 min) is a neo noir tragic love story directed by Pedro Almodóvar. From the synopsis you would be forgiven thinking that this is going to be a universally dour affair, the truth is that Almodóvar is able to find much beauty and humour in the story.

The film stars Penélope Cruz, this being the fourth film in collaboration with Almodóvar, and the actress creates a memorable character in Rivas, vivacious and memorable. The film opens with Lluis Homar (Harry) explaining why he ended up becoming his pseudo name, before the news of Martel's death soon move to bring back memories of his earlier tragic affair.

The movie is a very moving piece of film making and the director’s eye of construction, character and storytelling pull the audience right into the protagonist's tangled love affairs.

For fans of Almodóvar's work there is a self referential point in Mateo Blanco - Harry’s real name - film which he is making. If you look close the film within a film bears a striking similarity to Almodóvar’s own film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and even has some of the same actors in the fictional film.

The DVD does come with a couple of extras. La Concejala Antropofaga (7 min, 34 sec), starring Carmen Manchi, is about a counsellor espousing the delights of a hedonistic lifestyle. It’s a black comedy whose subject matter may not appeal to everyone, especially when she bemoans the fact that having been interested in sex from an early age it was one of her regrets that there was not a paedophile in her family, all the while snorting coke and eating. Personally I found it hilarious. There are three deleted scenes (3 min, 32 sec), Harry wakes Diago so that he can make a call. (4 min, 46 sec), Harry is out at a restaurant, (3 min, 32 sec) and we are in the past for a short scene.

Directing Girls and Suitcases (5 min, 52 sec) is a split screen affair with a scene with Penelope Cruz on one side while we see the director on the other giving directions to the actors. It’s an interesting and unusual extra, well worth a quick look if you want to know how Pedro Almodóvar works. The disc is wrapped up with the original theatrical trailer (1 min, 49 sec) and a photo gallery.

Visually the film is a feast for the eyes; Almodóvar is able to create something sumptuous to look at in every scene. Even though the films structure is neo noir the director has gone for a vibrancy of colour rather than the black and white normally associated with this genre. The disc only has options for the original Spanish with burned in English subtitles; there is also an option to have the subs read to you in English with descriptions.

So, a moving and memorable performance from Cruz and well worth checking out if you’re a serious fan of cinema.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£11.98 (
£11.99 (
£12.99 (
£12.97 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.