What You Need To Know:
BROKEN EMBRACES is well acted. International star Penélope Cruz plays Lena, the object of lust in the movie. The tragedy that occurs in the middle is sad, but it occurs because of the untamed pagan lusts involved in the love triangle. BROKEN EMBRACES doesn’t explicitly promote an immoral worldview, but it does contain foul language, lewd content, explicit nudity, and drug use. Taken together, the movie’s depiction of immoral content is excessive and uninspiring. Media-wise viewers can find more uplifting foreign movies at our website, www.movieguide.org.
(PaPaPa, Ro, C, B, HoHo, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, DD, MMM) Very strong, slightly mixed hedonistic pagan worldview with Romantic elements, plus slight Christian content where there are prominent images of a cross in the background in two locations and a reference to them reveals a past secret, a light moral element where a confession of past sins brings some healing, and strong references to side character’s homosexuality; 22 obscenities (including several “f” words) and six light profanities such as “My God” and one “for God’s sake”; three scenes of violence and one scene with implied violence include man pushes woman down long stairway but she survives with a broken leg, man and woman struggle over camera, sudden disturbing car crash results in one death, and woman shows up with bloody lip and bruises and says she has been beaten; strong sexual content includes three depicted scenes of fornication (one obscured by couch and one obscured by bed covers), implied homosexual liaison between supporting character and his apparent partner, an implied fornication scene, verbal implications that main female character worked as a high-class prostitute, passionate kissing, sounds of sexual activity, verbal references in one scene to side character’s homosexual proclivities, and main female character becomes live-in mistress of rich divorced man; upper female nudity in two sex scenes and upper male nudity, plus obscured rear male nudity in one shot; alcohol use; smoking, brief cocaine use, people at bar take drugs, drug-intoxicated man almost overdoses when he confuses a drug taker’s drug-induced drink with his own, and verbal references to drug dealing and finding a suitcase full of cocaine in a movie within the movie; and, cheating, deceit, betrayal, jealousy, uncontrollable anger, hit and run driver, revenge.
BROKEN EMBRACES is a Spanish melodrama about passion and tragedy.
The movie opens with a writer in Madrid telling the audience that he used to be a film director who wrote his movies under the pseudonym “Harry Caine”. Now that he’s become blind, he has taken on the persona of his alter-ego, Harry. The rest of the movie reveals how Harry became blind. It’s all because of his tragic love affair with Lena, the beautiful mistress of a rich financier who funded her first movie directed by Harry’s original persona, Mateo Blanco.
Playing prominent roles in this lust triangle is Harry’s long-time female agent, Judit, and the financier’s homosexual son. Judit’s grown son Diego prompts Harry to recall what happened 14 years ago, but it is Judit who will reveal the secrets behind the scenes that have been hidden from Harry until now.
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, BROKEN EMBRACES is well acted. International star Penélope Cruz plays Lena, the object of lust in the movie. The tragedy that occurs in the middle is sad, because Harry’s rival, who pushes Lena down the stairs when he finds out about their affair, instigates it. Lena survives the fall with a broken leg, but she and Harry run away together when Lena turns up beaten one other day in the story. Almodóvar deftly evokes sympathy for Lena and Harry toward the end. At the end, however, tragedy turns to hope and reconciliation when Harry’s long-time agent reveals the important secrets she has been keeping for 14 years.
Tragedy eventually strikes us all one time or another, because death is a part of life. Tragedy becomes more tragic, however, when we inflict it on ourselves because of our own sins or lust.
In BROKEN EMBRACES, Lena turns to the rich divorced man because she desires comfort and security, things he can provide. She doesn’t want to marry him, however, because she cannot trust a man who has been divorced several times. When she meets Harry, who puts her in his movie, the rich man, Ernesto, is so jealous that he funds the movie and becomes its producer so he can keep an eye on her. Sure enough, Ernesto’s suspicions are confirmed when he finds out about Lena’s affair with Harry and when Lena tells him she is leaving him for the director.
Thus, it is actually the pagan sinful lusts of these three characters that lead to the movie’s tragedy, including Harry’s blindness. The movie offers no spiritual or moral answers, however. It also contains foul language, lewd sexual content, explicit nudity, and drug use. Taken together, the movie’s depiction of explicit, immoral content is excessive and uninspiring.
BROKEN EMBRACES doesn’t explicitly promote an immoral worldview, so it’s not thoroughly evil or abhorrent, but it also doesn’t really question the immoral, hedonistic choices the characters make. That’s left up to the viewer. It could be said, however, that Judit’s confession of her past sins helps bring some emotional healing to Harry’s pain, and perhaps even a renewal of their own platonic relationship.