Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 9, 2010 by  

Beautiful and vibrant visuals, artistic cinematography and solid performances from the major talent.  Pedro Almodovar has created once again a beautiful film that is fantastic on Blu-ray.  Definitely recommended!

© 2009 El Deseo D.A., S.L.U. All Rights Reserved. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos)


DURATION: 127 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), Spanish 5.1 DTS-HDMA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Universal/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Sexual Content, Language and some Drug Material)

RELEASE DATE: March 16, 2010

Written and Directed by Pedro Almodovar

Produced by Agustin Almodovar, Esther Garcia

Music by Alberto Iglesias

Cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto

Edited by Jose Salcedo

Casting by Luis San Narciso

Production Design by Antxon Gomez

Art Direction by Victor Molero

Set Decoration by Marta Blasco, Pilar Revuelta

Costume Design by Sonia Grande


Penelope Cruz as Lena

Lluis Homar as Mateo Blanco/Harry Caine

Blanca Portillo as Judit Garcia

Jose Luis Gomez as Ernest Martel

Ruben Ochandiano as Ray X

Tamar Novas as Diego

Angela Molina as Madre de Lena

Chus Lampreave as Portera

Kiti Manver as Madame Mylene

Lola Duenas as Lectora de Labios

Mariola Fuentes as Edurne

Carmen Machi as Chon

A luminous Penélope Cruz stars as an actress who sacrifices everything for true love in BROKEN EMBRACES, Academy Award® -winning filmmaker (2003, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Talk to Her) Pedro Almodóvar’s acclaimed tale of sex, secrets and cinema. When her father becomes gravely ill, beautiful Lena (Cruz) consents to a relationship with her boss Ernesto (José Luis Gómez), a very wealthy, much-older man who pays for her father’s hospitalization and provides her a lavish lifestyle. But Lena’s dream is to act and soon she falls for the director of her first film – a project bankrolled by her husband to keep her near. Upon his discovery of the affair, Ernesto stops at nothing to ruin Lena’s happiness.

One of the most respected and most successful Spanish filmmakers internationally is Pedro Almodovar.  Known for creating films with complex narratives, showcasing vibrant colors and are melodramas, the filmmaker created his most expensive and longest film in 2009 shot in Spain titled “Los Abrazaos Rotos” (Broken Embraces).

In “Broken Embraces”, the film is about time lost and jealousy.  The film begins with the present as a man named “Harry Caine” (played by Lluis Homar), a blind writer who lives his life with his agent Judit (played  by Blanco Portillo) and her son Diego (played by Tamar Novas).

But life chances for Harry when he finds out that the wealthy millionaire named Ernesto Martel (played by Jose Luis Gomez) has died.

The story then shows us a flashback to 1994.  Lena (played by Penelope Cruz) works for Ernesto Martel but one day, she is called by her mother about her sick father who was supposed to undergo surgery but since the doctor planned to go on vacation, with no backup doctor in sight, Lena’s father was good as dead.

Knowing the money and power of Ernesto, she asks for his help and he gives it to her.  And from that point, Ernesto and Lena become a couple.  But Lena has always dreamed of becoming an actress and for Ernesto, what best than to produce a film with one of the best Spanish directors out there…. Mateo Blanco (who at the time has great eyesight).

Filming goes well but immediately, both Lena and Mateo have this sexual attraction that leads the two to have a passionate tryst.  What they don’t know is that their relationship is under the close eye of Ernesto’s videographer son aka “Ray X” who films the two and the video is then read by a mouth reader and translated to Ernesto.  Ernesto learns that the woman he loves is having sexual liasons with his director and he is not too thrilled about it.

Lena is so in love with Mateo and cant’ stand having sex with the older Ernesto that she is through with the relationship but Ernesto is not going to let her go.

The film is eventually completed but in this course of time, somehow Lena ends up dead, Mateo ends up blind and long kept secrets are about to be revealed over 14 years later.


“Broken Embraces” is featured in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  If there is one thing that cinema fans can expect from a Pedro Almodovar film, his films are gorgeous.  Working together with Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto, the two managed to create an absolutely beautiful and vibrant film with beautiful images captured on the big screen.

From breathtaking shots and well done character placement in the scene, “Broken Embraces” is just a beautiful film to look at and once again, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has done a remarkable job in bring this film to Blu-ray.  Colors are vibrant, blacks are nice and deep, great amount of detail from the freckles to age spots on the skin to the beautiful cinematography captured in this film.


“Broken Embraces” is presented in Spanish 5.1 DTS HD-MA and French 5.1 Dolby Digital.  This melodrama is primarily front and center channel driven with its dialogue and the original score by Alberto Iglesias.  But there are moments where surround channels are used effectively from the slight ambiance of footsteps in a hospital scene, to hearing crowd ambiance at the beach or a restaurant.

Dialogue is clear and understandable.  Music sounds absolutely beautiful and for the most part, this lossless soundtrack is quite satisfactory for this type of film.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.


“Broken Embraces” comes with the following special features in Standard and High Definition with English and Spanish Stereo and optional English subtitles:

  • Deleted Scenes – A total of three deleted scenes: Assembling the Notebook, Restaurant Without a View, Continuation of Girls and Suitcases
  • Pedro Directs Penelope – (5:52) Featuring a split screen of Pedro Almodivar directing the “Girls and Suitcases” scene for the film.
  • Variety Q&A with Penelope Cruz – (6:18) Variety’s live public interview hosted by Variety’s Todd McCarthy with Penelope Cruz.
  • “The Cannibalistic Councillor” Short Film by Pedro Almodivar – (7:33) The following short “The Cannibalistic Councilor” features the the characters of Penelope Cruz’s Lena and the other female actress from the film that Mateo was shooting in the film.
  • On the Red Carpet: The New York Film Festival Closing Night – (3:13) A short featurette featuring the closing night and the talent arriving on the red carpet and how Pedro Almodivar’s films have become a staple for the NYFF for many years.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:45) The original theatrical trailer for “Broken Embraces”.

“Broken Embraces” (Los abrazos rotos) is a dark melodrama that showcases Pedro Almodovar’s beautiful filmmaking, Rodrigo Prieto’s beautiful cinematography, Alberto Iglesias’s emotional score and the powerful performances from the film’s talent.   For the most part, I was very impressed with this film.

Penelope Cruz returns in a part where she plays a sexy woman in a relationship with an older man (which she did with Ben Kingsley in 2008’s “Elegy”) but for the most part, Cruz does a wonderful job portraying a character who is stuck in a relationship that she can’t escape from and another wonderful pairing with Almodovar since their 2007 film “Volver” and 1999’s “All About My Mother” (which is highly recommended film).

Actor Lluis Homar does a great job of feeding off Cruz’s emotions as the two have a believable chemistry together onscreen.  Homar’s transformation from the filmmaker Mateo Blanco to the blind writer Harry Caine was well-done.   But I also have to really give credit to Blanca Portillo as Judit Garcia who is a major key to the film.

But what makes “Broken Embraces” work so well is the balance of beautiful cinematography, character placement and just getting these beautiful key shots that looks rather artistic and boasting with vibrant colors and for the most part, Almodovar is just a brilliant filmmaker.  He knows what he wants to capture on camera and the overall presentation is well-done.

If there is any criticism, it’s pretty much anyone’s comparison of Almodovar’s previous work because he has created his share of cinema masterpieces.  Some may feel that the film borrows from his 1988 film “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” but truthfully, I just felt intrigued by the film.  Sure, some parts may have been predictable but I felt that Almodivar tied the film up quite nicely.  And just loved the nod to several filmmakers and their films when Diego was looking for Louis Malle’s “Elevator to the Gallows” for Mateo especially the “Peeping Tom” reference (for those familiar to Michael Powell’s 1960 psychodrama).

The Blu-ray features beautiful, vibrant visuals and solid lossless soundtrack for this type of film and a good number of special features.

Overall, “Broken Embraces” is an enjoyable film.  It definitely has its share of dark moments but everything comes together quite harmonically for this film.  If you have never experienced a Pedro Almodovar film (especially on Blu-ray), definitely give “Broken Embraces” a try.

Definitely recommended!

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