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Penélope Cruz has appeared in 14 American films without being memorable. Yet Almodóvar takes her back to Spain, gives her curves—and she is immortal

By Mark Cousins   October 2006

As I write, Britain’s art-house cinemas are muy contentos. Since its May premiere at Cannes, they have been licking their chops at the prospect of showing Pedro Almodóvar’s new movie, Volver, about a woman whose mother returns from the dead. Art-house cinemas need quality hit films to subsidise their education and repertory programming, and Volver had “hit” written all over it.

Almodóvar’s following has grown over the years, and his style has matured as he has reduced the amount of gay sex in his films and increased the range of feeling, the harmonics of his mode of melodrama. He has…

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