Heaving breasts, the color rosa, the pig-centric kitchen prowess of Mario Batali (if he were the world's *second* most gorgeous woman): The most striking aspect of Pedro Almodovar's Raimunda in “Volver”--other than her physical exquisiteness-- is that she is a person—not just a woman—who moves forward, no questions asked. Forget returning: Raimunda is progressing.
Much has been written about Almodovar and his love for women—I personally enjoy this proclivity of his as I do his fascination with the dead. And much has been made of his problem with men (see Anthony Lane; note: usually love his reviews, this one not so much). But gender arguments aside, Almodovar has written a character that can weather insanity-inducing winds, rape, incest, worse, loss, and then the ultimate shock: seeing it happen to her daughter. Raimunda may live in a land that only Almodovar could create, but she is very much of our time and place. It seems fitting that the people I gel with best now are the pro-active, the surviving, the people who get things done and take care of even the dirtiest business. The ones who forge on despite petty, negative obstacle-characters or terrifying news. Avoid confrontation? You’re not one of these people. Leave things unsaid, conflicts unresolved, people you love on hold? You, too, don’t apply. You don't treasure life, and you'll be remembered that way. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you--or that I'm someone who should even say such a thing--only that I know I loved Volver because I am psychologically attracted to those men and women who are more Raimunda-like than those who aren't. The reasons are personal, but my point here is to say that Almodovar has--yes, as many critics have written--created yet another fiction that only he could dream up, in a place that only could exist in his head, but that his is also the best fiction: the type that feels real, of this earth. Raimunda is, underneath it all, a brave life-lover who only wants her serving of it with all the trimmings, and that's what Volver's about. Our new reality. Ghosts, fucking, cancer, and insanity included. (If only Clive Owen's character in "Children of Men" could have met her when their fates crossed in filmland. Maybe at an awards show...)