Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Entre tinieblas / Dark Habits (Pedro Almodóvar, 1983)

Chus Lampreave, Carmen Maura and Marisa Paredes
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Screenwriter: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Julieta Serrano, Cristina Pascual, Marisa Paredes, Carmen Maura, Chus Lampreave
Synopsis: After her boyfriend's death-by-overdose, singer Yolanda Bel (Pascual) takes refuge from the police in the convent of the Humiliated Redeemers, run by a Mother Superior (Serrano) who is addicted to bolero music, heroin, and young women. 

My favourite of Almodóvar's early films by a long way. It represents a massive jump forward stylistically (it was the first of his films to have something approaching a normal budget) -everything in the mise-en-scène, from the framing to the colours to the small details in the sets, contains the kernel of what would become a recognisably 'Almodóvarian' style. In the introduction on the UK DVD, José Arroyo argues that this film is an anchor to the rest of Almodóvar's work and it is difficult to disagree. It's not just a matter of a recognisable visual style, or the beginning of what would become a kind of 'repertory company' for him (although it's wonderful to see them all together), or the first time that he uses bolero music to drive the emotion of a scene (side effect of doing an Almodóvarthon: the amount of bolero music on my ipod rises dramatically). It's something to do with the tone. He creates a melodrama (in certain sequences the combination of sound and image recalls the work of Douglas Sirk) with the attendant highs and lows of emotion: this is a tragedy, but it is often also exhilarating. 
If you haven't seen it, I really can't recommend it enough.