The Spanish master, Pedro Almodovar, has begun working on his next film, Silencio. The title denotes the main element which provokes the worst things that can happen to a woman, the female protagonist in this case.
In an interview to Financial Times, he described the movie as "a return to the cinema of women, of great female protagonists, and it's a hard-hitting drama, which excites me".
Almodovar, who has been often casting his favourite actors such as Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, is planning to move outside this circle. The script of Silencio does not quite suit these artists. (In fact, Cruz owes a lot of her fame and success to Almodovar, and there was a time when it was rumoured that she was in love with him, till she got involved with Tom Cruise, a relationship which lasted three years. She is now married to Javier Bardem - whom she first met at the shoot of Jamon Jamon in 1992.)
Silencio will be all about strong women - in the tradition of films like Volver (where Cruz's character murders her husband and puts the body inside a huge freezer) and All About My Mother. An equally strong woman-centric movie, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988, nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar), has just been adapted to stage. It is on in London with Tamsin Greig essaying the lead.
As much as Silencio will be a strong female oriented film, it will also be narrated with a touch of comedy. Almodovar has always maintained that though comedy is looked down upon as a lesser genre, it is in fact superior. His examples have been Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder, whose comic roles were just classic.
Almodovar - who makes movies in Spanish - shot into limelight as writer and director at the time of La Movida Madrilena, a cultural renaissance which followed the death of the country's dictator, Francisco Franco. The helmer's first works were wonderfully evocative stories about political and sexual freedom.
Yet, when Almodovar was asked to direct Brokeback Mountain - with full artistic freedom and a right over the final cut - he stepped back, because he was not comfortable with that one scene of gay sex. It eventually went to Ang Lee.
Winner of Academy Awards for All About My Mother (1999, Best Foreign Language Film) and Talk to Her (2002, Best Original Screenplay), Almodovar has made several riveting films - some of which were Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), High Heels (1991), Live Flesh (1997), Bad Education (2004), Volver (2006), Broken Embraces (2009) and The Skin I Live In (2011). Dealing with complex issues centring on melodrama, pop culture, irreverent humour, desire, passion and family, the auteur has also been a great box office appeal.