Film Review: Volver in Spanish, To Go Back in English, by Pedro Almodóvar

by DerdriuMarriner

Volver by Pedro Almodóvar mixes comedy, crime, romance, and tragedy in a drama film about the opportunities linked to cemeteries, inheritances, and restaurants in central Spain.

Going back brings to film-goers an 11-year-old interest:

Cinema-going audiences, film historians, and movie critics generally accord high marks to the compelling contributions by cast and crew and the excellent configuration of characters, dialogues, and events in Volver (To Go Back). The Spanish drama brings to cinematographic screens the intriguing experience of viewing a film whose configuration a previous movie foretells. The storyline covers the same ground as that in a novel whose rejection as a publishable manuscript and theft for a film screenplay appear in Pedro Almodóvar’s 1995 release, La flor de mi secreto (The Flower of My Secret).

Volver does not have anything in common with the earlier film other than inputs and outputs by the same director, editor, musician, producers, and writers.

All six actresses in "Volver" shared in the Award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival:

Penélope Cruz credits director Pedro Almodóvar with changing the way she viewed everything; their first film together was "Live Flesh" (1998).
Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar at 2006 festival de Cannes, southern France
Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar at 2006 festival de Cannes, southern France

Going back communicates respect for family and friends


Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Soledad (Lola Dueñas) expect to maintain regular contacts with their birthplace even though both sisters live in Madrid. Friendship with Agustina (Blanca Portillo) and maintenance of their mother’s (Irene Trujillo Sánchez, August 20, 1941 – July 24, 2002) grave furnish ample reasons for frequent visits. But at the same time, Alcanfor de las Infantas holds Spain’s record for easterly winds, fire damage, and prevailing insanity.

It nevertheless is not because of Paula’s (Chus Lampreave) unbalanced body and mind that Raimunda decides not to return the next day for her maternal aunt’s funeral. 


Volver trailer

Uploaded to YouTube on August 22, 2006 by SonyPicturesClassics ~ URL:

Going back does not make things stay unchanged


Raimunda joins Sole in unexpected behaviors. Fourteen-year-old daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) kills Raimunda’s husband Paco (Antonio de la Torre) for attempted assault. Raimunda lets everyone believe that lay-offs send Paco into employment and liaisons elsewhere instead of:

  • the freezer in Emilio’s (Carlos Blanco) restaurant; and
  • the Júcal River banks, with the tree-trunk epitaph FHT 1967 – 2006.

She manages to:

  • supplement cooking, laundering, and mopping with a week’s catering -- at 10 euros per head per day -- for 30 crewmembers from a nearby film-shoot; and
  • talk Emilio into negotiating his 5,000,000-euro sales price.

She needs to re-think selling the Trujillo family home -- which is across from cancer-stricken Agustina’s house -- after being updated about Irene’s death. 


Volver ~ Amazon Instant Video: Rent or Buy with 1-Click®

Volver (2006)

Going back emphasizes balancing formative and joyous experiences


The updates open the way to:

  • admitting Irene’s husband’s, not Paco’s, impregnating Raimunda 14 years previously;
  • exposing Irene’s killing her husband and Agustina’s free-loving mother in a love hut-set fire four years previously;
  • permitting Agustina’s pursuing common village beliefs in ghostly returns by loved ones; and
  • sanctioning Irene’s supervising palliative care for terminally ill Agustina.

So the English-subtitled, Spanish-voiced, 2006-released Volver provides viewers with 121 minutes of culturally enriching, educationally entertaining insights into central Spain’s respectively big-city Madrid and small-village La Mancha cultures and with minimal alcohol, intimacy, marijuana, swear-words, and violence, thanks to:

  • José Luis Alcaine, cinematographer;
  • Agustín Almodóvar and Esther García, producers;
  • Pedro Almodóvar, director, producer, writer;
  • Alberto Iglesias, music director; and 
  • José Salcedo, editor. 


Penélope Cruz Cantando Volver

Published on YouTube on January 9, 2013 by 2pacloves kanal ~ URL:



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar walk the red carpet for 2006 Prince of Asturias Awards where the director was honored for his contributions to the Arts.

2006 Prince of Asturias Awards: October 20, 2006
2006 Prince of Asturias Awards: October 20, 2006
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Volver theatrical release poster: stretched canvas print available via AllPosters


Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 02/15/2019, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 04/06/2015

Mira, Penélope Cruz gave so much to her character and to this film, including the flamenco version of the tango song, "Volver." It's great that the performances of all six women were honored as a totality by the Best Actress Award at Cannes, because each actress' part blended seamlessly into a perfect whole. Dream director Pedro Almodóvar definitely had his dream cast here.

Mira on 04/06/2015

I don't remember much about this movie but I do remember being impressed by Penélope Cruz's Lola Dueñas's acting. And yes, I'm a fan of Almodóvar's quirkiness, to put it mildly :)

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