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Almodovar shows class, yet again

Cannes is raving about the Spanish director, reports Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 11:40 IST

It is easy to see why Cannes loves Pedro Almodovar. The latest edition of the festival is only four days old and the Spanish maverick’s Volver (To Return) has quickly emerged as the odds-on favourite for the Palme d’Or.

At the press screening of the film, a segment of the audience clapped enthusiastically as soon as Almodovar’s name appeared on the screen. At the end of the show, the applause simply wouldn’t stop. Can anything stop Volver. The film has already got more than foot in the D’or and only a major upset can prevent it from going through.

Not just the film, Penelope Cruz, who plays one of the three women protagonists of Volver, has, by consensus, delivered the best performance of her life and would, therefore, be in the running for the best actress nod.

For Indian filmmaker and Cannes regular Sudhir Mishra, Volver  is a stunning achievement. “It has layers within layers and at times leaves you wondering what is going on, but when it ends it seems deceptively straight and simple. It’s the work of a real master,” he says.  

A still from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's Cannes presentation, Volver.

Let us consider the films that might prevent what at the present juncture seems inevitable. Up ahead is Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki’s

Lights in the Dusk

.  The film completes the director’s second trilogy. The first –

Shadows in Paradise (

1986),

Ariel

(1988) and

The Match Factory Girl

(1990) – dealt with the various faces of the Finnish working class.



The second trilogy was initially intended to be about unemployment but broadened out into an investigation of Finland as a whole. Drifting Clouds (1996) looked at unemployment while

The Man without a Past

(2002) explored the anguish of homelessness.

Lights in the Dusk

is a study of loneliness.  Kaurismaki comes to Cannes with a reputation that is second to none. Lights in the Dusk will very much be in the jury’s frame when contenders for the Palme d’Or winner are deliberated upon in the course of the next week. 



Also in the reckoning will be the Nanni Moretti, often referred to as Italy’s Woody Allen. His film in Competition this year is Il Caimano, a savagely satirical look at the life and times of former Italian Prime Minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi. 

Like Almodovar’s Volver has done back in Spain, Il Caimano, released weeks before the last Italian elections, has achieved huge commercial success in the country of its origin. Here in Cannes, Moretti, who won the Palme d’Or not all that long back for The Son’s Room, is bound to make waves with his first out and out political film.

The mystery will be unravelled on May 28. Will one of the early favourites walk away with the crown or will yet another unknown spring a surprise at the closing ceremony?