The interlocking destinies of two women who meet as strangers on a maternity ward in Madrid, and who will give birth to baby daughters at virtually the same moment, are explored in Pedro Almodóvar’s spellbinding 22nd film. Janis (Penelope Cruz) is a professional photographer in her forties, while Ana (Milena Smit) is an adolescent from a broken home who became pregnant under terrible circumstances. Janis is having an affair with Arturo (Israel Elejalde), a forensic anthropologist working on the excavation of the unmarked grave of her great-grandfather, who was among the many tens of thousands who went ‘missing’ during the Spanish Civil War. Almodóvar positions the quest for truth and accountability for the awful, state-sanctioned crimes of that conflict as a thematic bedrock in his film which explores notions of identity and reconciliation by way of an imaginative, unpredictable, and ultimately very moving narrative.
Notes by David O Mahony