Universal acclaim - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 38
  2. Negative: 1 out of 38

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Critic Reviews

  1. Raimunda believes that dirty linen should be washed at home: Thank goodness Almodóvar hangs some of it up on the screen to dry.
  2. 83
    Penelope Cruz is sensational in Volver - she's its lifeblood, its raison d'etre and its meaning.
  3. 88
    Volver brims with personal and cinematic allusions, but no one hungry for a well-told tale from a master storyteller is required to understand them.
  4. As usual, Almodovar finds unusual camera angles to break up the straightforward storytelling. But for the first time I recall, not a single male character is crucial to his story, and no actor has a leading role. You won't miss them.
  5. This gritty melodrama is tempered by surreal black humor.
  6. 100
    It is refreshing to see Cruz acting in the culture and language that is her own. As it did with Sophia Loren in the 1950s, Hollywood has tried to force Cruz into a series of show-biz categories, when she is obviously most at home playing a woman like the ones she knew, grew up with, could have become.
  7. You always get more than one genre with this filmmaker. Volver draws upon all sorts of influences -- a little Hitchcock, a little Douglas Sirk, a little telenovela -- but from those sources Almodovar and his collaborators, both on screen and behind the camera, make an improbably organic whole.
  8. I have always felt that Almodóvar was at his best as an artist when he was at his most playful. Volver is about deadly serious matters of the heart, but it often has a screwball spirit. The darker things are, the funnier.
  9. The movie opens as borderline Hitchcock, echoing the tone of the filmmaker's bravura "Bad Education" (2004), and then turns into a kind of overly conceptualized Tennessee Williams.
  10. 70
    The movie is enjoyable, but not passionately engaging in the way we've come to expect from Almodóvar, and it leaves you somewhat cold in spite of the warmth of Cruz's galvanic performance.
  11. Volver is just as funny as "What Have I Done," but it's also more sanguine and complex. Its humor is brighter and loopier, more a function of the characters' indomitable spirit than of their terminal despair.
  12. 75
    One of the amazing things about Volver is that Almodóvar once again manages to make a preposterous, overloaded plot seem sublime and organic: It's his profound empathy for his characters and their very human dilemmas and flaws that allows him to fling them into all sorts of odd places without ever losing sight of them as people.
  13. For a black comedy whose tangled sequence of events is completely improbable, Pedro Almodóvar's Volver feels absolutely authentic. So, think of everything as metaphor and enjoy one of the year's most delectably twisted treats.
  14. Before it loses its fizz--maybe two thirds of the way through--Volver offers the headiest pleasures imaginable.
  15. 88
    Described as a cross between "Mildred Pierce" and "Arsenic and Old Lace" by Almodóvar - which ought to be more than enough to entice his fans.
  16. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The great Spanish director's fourth triumph in a row--following "All About My Mother," "Talk to Her" and "Bad Education"--Volver (which means "coming back") flows effortlessly between peril and poignancy, the real and the surreal, even life and death.
  17. Funny as it is fierce, breathtaking as it is life-affirming.
  18. 91
    In Volver, the latest marvel to emerge from his sharp and joyful mind, Almodovar blends autobiography, gossip, melodrama, music, the supernatural and the suffocatingly quotidian in a story about a woman -- indeed, a tribe of women -- struggling through a life of pain and disappointment.
  19. Reviewed by: Jenni Miller
    Each scene is lovingly crafted, with bright colors and the beautiful scenery of La Mancha, the mellifluous cadences of Castilian Spanish, and of course the faces, young and old, of each actress.
  20. 75
    Although Volver has a tendency to stray too far down tangential paths, it is ultimately satisfying.
  21. 100
    Volver is Almodovar's passionate tribute to the community of women -- living and dead -- who nurtured him. Through the transformative power of his art -- carried on the wings of Alberto Iglesias' exhilarating score -- we feel their presence. You do not want to miss this one.
  22. 90
    Part noir-comedy, part ghost story, but it's mostly a potent reflection on how where we come from shapes us, in ways we can't understand until we've been away for a long, long while.
  23. Lower your expectations going into Volver and accept it for what it is: a ridiculously entertaining melodrama with loud echoes of "Mildred Pierce" that provides Penelope Cruz with a vehicle for her multifaceted talents.
  24. Cruz is tough and sexy as the no-nonsense Raimunda and she's being deservedly talked up for an Oscar nomination in a tight best actress year.
  25. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Penélope Cruz, who's been so painful to watch in English-language roles over the past few years, reminds us that she really can act; she just can't act speaking phonetic dialogue. In her native language she's witty, wry, and elegant.
  26. 91
    Almodóvar is still one of the few directors worth watching just for how he uses color on the screen. But the pleasures have always run much deeper, and now they run deeper still.
  27. As down-to-earth as a ghost story gets.
  28. It's very difficult to mesh fantasy with reality, but with great charm and a light touch, Almodovar shows exactly how it should be done.
  29. 90
    Volver, full of surprises and reversals, unfolds with breathtaking ease and self-confidence. It is in some ways a smaller, simpler film than either "Talk to Her" or "Bad Education," choosing to tell its story without flashbacks or intricate parallel plots, but it is no less the work of a master.
  30. 70
    Yet the film, against my wishes, left me unmoved.
  31. Crammed with outrageous turns of fortune and quicksilver shifts in tone, Almodovar's film is held together by performances so subtle and complex it's hard to single out only one as exceptional. But Cruz is astonishing.
  32. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    With this, possibly his most subdued film, Almodo´var reinforces his status as one of the most distinctive and talented filmmakers working today.
  33. 90
    Peopled with superbly drawn, attractive characters smoothly integrated into a well-turned, low-tricks plotline, Volver may rep Almodovar's most conventional piece to date, but it is also his most reflective, a subdued, sometimes intense and often comic homecoming that celebrates the pueblo and people that shaped his imagination.
  34. 90
    Almodóvar isn't what he used to be (who is?), but he's a master of the medium nevertheless, deploying color and light and shadow not merely to express emotions but to tap into ours, directing the blood flow of the audience as much as he directs the movie.
  35. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    It's hard to say if Volver is a great film -- hard because every woman and girl in it is so damned endearing (the men are either impediments or bystanders to the real business of life) -- but safe to say it's right up there with Mr. Almodóvar's best.
  36. This all makes for a deeply entertaining experience that engages our hearts as well as our funny bones. And it's gratifying to see Cruz finally get her due.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 212 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 69
  2. Negative: 7 out of 69
  1. Mar 30, 2013
    Obra maestra de Pedro Almodóvar, ofreciendo una historia totalmente dramática con el saber hacer de 4 buenísimas actrices españolas, como sonObra maestra de Pedro Almodóvar, ofreciendo una historia totalmente dramática con el saber hacer de 4 buenísimas actrices españolas, como son Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas y Blanca Portillo. Preciosa la interpretación de Pe cantando Voler de Estrella Morente. Full Review »
  2. Jul 22, 2013
    With a predominantly female cast, the story is unveiled in quite a refreshing and unusual way. I have to admit I did like the way everythingWith a predominantly female cast, the story is unveiled in quite a refreshing and unusual way. I have to admit I did like the way everything was taken in a very practical way. No navel gazing going on here! All the performances were excellent with Penélope Cruz showing us just what a great actress she is, this time in her native tongue. Although I felt it was good, I didn’t feel it was great; maybe a second viewing at a later date might knock it over that level, but for now, it didn’t quite get over the line. Still, there is much to admire here and I’m glad I took the time to give it a look.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 7.4/10
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 3, 2012
    With the help of excellent actresses and great plots we watch the film and remain speechless. Especially Carmen Maura in the role of theWith the help of excellent actresses and great plots we watch the film and remain speechless. Especially Carmen Maura in the role of the mother is a masterpiece. Cruz, the muse of Almodovar, is a natural force of the character, which she created. Colourful scenery, which is an excellent choice, contrasts with full of ridiculous or scary ideas. The scenario still surprises spectator. It is hard to find as good as here analyse of women Full Review »