Volver (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) and her sister Sole (Lola Duenas) have been without their mother since she perished in a fire, but they were close with an aunt. When their aunt dies, the sisters attend the funeral and hear rumors that their mother has been seen, which of course has them on edge. Back from the funeral, Sole opens the trunk of her car and discovers her mother Irene (Carmen Maura) inside. Of course this is a shock, but she takes her in and tells her neighbors she is an immigrant, as Irene doesn’t want Raimunda to know she is still alive. That seems cold, but Raimunda is deep in problems of her own, including the not so small issue of her dead husband Paco (Antonio de la Torre). He was killed by Raimunda’s daughter Paula (Yohana Coba), when he tried to sexually abuse her. In other words, the sisters have a lot going on and things don’t seem to be getting any simpler, but can they put some kind of a family back together again?

I have to be honest, I didn’t expect this to pop up on Blu-ray so fast, but I am pleased that Sony has given us this high definition release of Volver. This movie could have been a disaster in the wrong hands, running off the rails as it changed between tones, but as usual, Pedro Almodovar is able to keep things together. Volver has moments of comedy, drama, tragedy, and beyond, which means transitions were crucial. The director was indeed able to make the switch with seamless skill, while also keeping the elements in check, so the comedy isn’t too slapstick and the drama never veers to melodrama. This couldn’t have been a simple task, but it works and Volver is a terrific movie. As always, Almodovar crafts incredible female characters and guides them with ease, creating memorable characters we can invest in. The cast is superb also, with Penelope Cruz as the biggest name involved, but the cast on the whole is quite good here. Volver is just a well made picture that gives us great characters and a great story, so of course, I am able to give the movie a high recommendation.

Video: How does it look?

Volver is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I wouldn’t use this as a reference disc, but the transfer is good and the visuals look just as intended. The movie has a very bright visual design, so the image is very bright by turn, save a few scenes that are on the darker side. I found detail to be more than decent, but not quite as eye popping as we’d like from Blu-ray. However, I don’t think there is a lot of room for improvement in this resolution and by no means are the visuals soft. The real star is the color, as the bold and rich hues really shine here. Despite reds that seems to burst at the seams, I saw no bleeds or oversaturation, just vivid colors as it should be

Audio: How does it sound?

The original Spanish language is preserved here, in an uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack. This is not reference level material, but the music does sound excellent. The bass is deep and the music really comes alive in the surrounds. Given the low key nature of the material, the music serves to add presence and it does, the soundtrack is loud and powerful. The other sound effects tend to be less remarkable, but well handled, which is what matters. As far as dialogue, I found vocals to be crisp and never muffled in the least. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, as well as English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary is up first, as Almodovar and Cruz provide some insights on the production. This is a Spanish language session, but English subtitles have been provided. There is a little too much praise for each other, but there is also some decent stuff to be heard between ego stroking. Almost half an hour of cast & crew interviews yield more information, while Cruz has her own interview in which she talks about her personal past. There is also a very brief general behind the scenes piece, but it is fluff and not really worth the time.

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