Friday, December 30, 2005

The Flower of My Secret

The Flower of My Secret (1995) Pedro Almadovar's eleventh film, tells the story of a woman dealing with rejection, loss and abandonment. I know how that sounds, and before you run screaming from the video shop, know that under Almadovar's light, expert touch, the film is funny and entertaining, and also moving, without ever being sentimental or maudlin.

Almadovar regular Marisa Paredes plays Leo, a writer who creates trashy but popular romance novels under a pseudonym, while her own all too real marriage is falling apart. Determined to start a more respectable literary career, she decides to create a new life by applying for a job at the literary section of a prestigious Madrid newspaper, without telling them of her pseudonymous writing. Her first assignment: review one of her own novels, which she savagely skewers in print. (Almadovar understands that writers are their own harshest critics!) But rather than being the path she thought would give her direction, the new-found role only adds another layer to her sense of confusion and misdirection. She wanders, lost, as her mother says, "like a cow without a cowbell."

Viewers familiar with Almadovar's work will recognize all his strengths here in full flame: complicated, likeable and interesting female characters; a wonderful plot that is simultaneously casually meandering and tight; strange--but somehow successful--shifts and combinations of tone accompanied by playful riffs on serious themes of identity, relationships and reality. Unfortunately some weaknesses are on display, too. The stunning backgrounds (beautifully shot scenes of Madrid, the gorgeous apartments, empty courtyards, the wine bars, the flamenco dancers, and an idealized Spanish villa in the countryside) can make Leo's problems--though still very real and worthy of attention--have that "trouble in paradise" feel, somewhat akin to Woody Allen's good, but similarly faulted, 'problems-on-the-Upper-East-Side' films. It wouldn't make a good double bill with "City of God" is all.

Not Almadovar's strongest work, but a well-crafted, very likeable film nonetheless.

FilmStocker Rating: B+

2 Comments:

Blogger Derek said...

I agree, TFOMS is a very worth while film, taht I feel is greatly underrated. Almodovar is a master.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Interesting concept of mixing vegetarian recipes and movies -- two of my wife's and my biggest passions. Good luck with the blog!

2:19 PM  

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