4 out of 5 stars
The melodramatic complexity of human and sexual relationships; the sombre and thoughtful meditation on parent/motherhood and guilt as a virus affecting those you love; the stylish designs and colour palette not to mention the use of luscious Reds: welcome back to Almodovar country and it is also a welcomed back to form from the director whose last outing was the throwaway mis-step that was I’m So Excited. Perhaps it’s good that he got all his camp out in that last film for there is hardly any traces it here. Instead we have literary references galore: both classic (Greek tragedies) and cultural (some shots and that soundtrack is almost the definition of Hitchcockian). And our auteur returns with yet another intricate and sophisticated entanglement of dramatic narratives and discourses so sumptuous and yet so mysterious that only Almodovar can weave them all together into a coherent and convincing whole. A film that begs you to watch more than once to appreciate all the many ideas jostling for space behind it. The performances, especially of our leading ladies, are excellent and the photography is exquisite and meticulously composed. There are some leaps of fancy that the story takes but nothing too irreparable that the next intriguing reveal couldn’t recover from. With an ending that maddens and enchants in equal measure, it is definitely one for post-cinema discussions so your mates can tell you the stuff you’ve missed or the metaphoric significance of that empty bag on the train.