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Volver Promotional Poster
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Produced by Esther García (producer)
Agustín Almodóvar (executive)
Written by Pedro Almodóvar
Starring Penélope Cruz
Carmen Maura
Lola Dueñas
Blanca Portillo
Yohana Cobo
Chus Lampreave
Music by Alberto Iglesias
Cinematography Jose Luis Alcaine
Editing by José Salcedo
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release date(s) March 17, 2006
Running time 121 minutes
Country Spain
Language Spanish
Budget €9,400,000
Gross revenue $84,021,052

Volver (Literally: to return (specifically: to return to a place), pronounced [bolˈβer]) is a 2006 Spanish film by director Pedro Almodóvar.

Volver was one of the films competing for the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. It eventually won two awards: Best Actress (shared by the six main actresses) and Best Screenplay.[1] The film's premiere was held on March 10, 2006, in Puertollano, Spain, where the filming had taken place. Penélope Cruz was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the second Spanish woman ever to be nominated in that category.

The plot originates in Almodóvar's earlier film The Flower of My Secret, where it features as a novel which is rejected for publication but is stolen to form the screenplay of a film The Freezer.



Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and Sole (short for Soledad, loneliness) (Lola Dueñas) are sisters who grew up in a small village in La Mancha but now both live in Madrid. Their parents died in a tragic fire a few years prior to the beginning of the film. The events which occurred on the night of the fire are only gradually revealed, but are central to the plot.

Sole returns to the village for the funeral of her elderly Aunt Paula (Chus Lampreave). Aunt Paula's neighbour Agustina (Blanca Portillo), confesses to Sole that she has heard Paula talking to the ghost of Sole's mother Irene (Carmen Maura). Sole encounters the ghost herself, and when she returns to Madrid, she discovers that the ghost has stowed away in the trunk of her car. She has brought luggage and intends to stay with Sole for a while.

Sole is frightened, but agrees to let her mother stay with her: Sole operates a hair salon in her apartment, and Irene will assist Sole with shampooing and rinsing customers, posing as a Russian woman who doesn't understand any Spanish. Sole tries to determine why her mother's ghost has returned to Earth, asking her if she left anything undone in her life. Irene says that she does have issues to resolve, relating to the questions of why Raimunda hates her and why she is afraid to reveal herself to Raimunda.

Meanwhile Raimunda and her daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) have a different death to cope with. Paula's father Paco attempts to rape her, claiming that he is not really her father, and Paula stabs him in self-defense. Raimunda quickly hides the corpse in the deep-freezer of a nearby unused restaurant. The owner of the restaurant building is out of town and entrusted Raimunda with the keys so that she can show it to prospective tenants. When members of a film crew happen upon the restaurant, Raimunda strikes a deal to cater for them, and suddenly finds herself (back) in the restaurant business.

Raimunda reveals to Paula that Paco was not, in fact, her biological father, and promises to tell her the whole story at a later time.

Agustina is diagnosed with cancer and must go to Madrid for medical treatment. Raimunda visits her in the hospital. Agustina asks Raimunda if she has seen her mother's ghost. Agustina hopes that the ghost will be able to tell her about the fate of her own mother, who disappeared three years ago without a trace.

Raimunda undertakes the task of disposing of Paco’s remains: she leaves Paula with Sole, rents a van and transports the freezer to a convenient spot by the river Júcar, 180 kilometres away. While staying in Sole's apartment, Paula meets her grandmother's ghost and grows close to her.

The next night, Agustina comes to the restaurant to renew her request to Raimunda to ask her mother’s ghost about her own mother's whereabouts. She reveals two startling secrets: that Raimunda's father and Agustina’s mother were having an affair and that Agustina's mother disappeared on the same day that Raimunda’s parents died in the fire.

Sole finally confesses to Raimunda that she has seen their mother's ghost and that the ghost is, in fact, watching television in the next room with Paula. Raimunda is confused, angry, and frightened, but Paula urges her to tell her the truth: is she really alive, and not a dead spirit? Irene admits that she did not, in fact, die in the fire, and reveals the whole truth. We learn that the reason for Raimunda and Irene's estrangement is that Raimunda's father sexually abused her, resulting in the birth of Paula; thus Paula is Raimunda’s daughter and also her sister. Raimunda had been angry with her mother for never noticing and ending this abuse. Irene tells Raimunda that she was furious with herself when she found out. Irene explains that, due to her husband’s affair with Agustina’s mother and his abuse of Raimunda, she started the fire that killed him. The ashes that had been presumed to be Irene’s were, in fact, the ashes of Agustina's mother. Because she had been frightened of being caught, Irene had hidden for years in her sister’s house, helping to care for her when she lost the ability to look after herself. Due to the superstitious nature of the community, whose residents were accustomed to tales of the dead returning, rare sightings of herself had been passed off as "un fantasma", a ghost.

The film ends with the family reunited at Aunt Paula’s house. Irene reveals her presence to Agustina, who believes Irene to be a ghost. Irene pledges to stay in the village and care for Agustina as her cancer worsens, saying to Raimunda that it was the least that she could do after killing Agustina's mother. In the last scene Raimunda visits her mother at Agustina's house. The two embrace and tell one another that they now have time to repair their relationship.


Almodóvar says of the story that “it is precisely about death...More than about death itself, the screenplay talks about the rich culture that surrounds death in the region of La Mancha, where I was born. It is about the way (not tragic at all) in which various female characters, of different generations, deal with this culture.”[2] The plot of Volver follows the plot of a movie-within-the-movie based on the main character's novel in Almodóvar's 1995 film La flor de mi secreto.


Actor Role
Penélope Cruz Raimunda
Carmen Maura Irene
Lola Dueñas Soledad (Sole)
Blanca Portillo Agustina
Yohana Cobo Paula
Chus Lampreave Tía Paula
Antonio de la Torre Paco
Carlos Blanco Emilio

Critical response

The film received rave reviews when it was released in Spain. Fotogramas, the country's top film magazine, gave it a five-star rating.[3] It also received a standing ovation when it was screened as part of the official selection at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and won the Best Screenplay award as well as the award for Best Actress — which was shared by the six stars of the film.[1] In addition, the film received two nominations at the 2006 Golden Globes: Best Actress for Penélope Cruz as well as Best Foreign Language Film. Cruz also received Academy Award, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Actress.

The film has received a Certified Fresh rating from critics at Rotten Tomatoes, scoring 91 percent on the site's "Tomatometer", as well as 91 percent from the users on the site.

Top ten lists

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006.[4]

General top ten

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Awards (0/1):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
  • 2006 Cannes Film Festival(2/2):[1]
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo and Chus Lampreave)
    • Best Screenplay (Pedro Almodóvar)
  • BAFTA Awards (0/2):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
    • Best Foreign Language Film
  • Broadcast Film Critics (0/2):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
    • Best Foreign Language Film
  • Chicago Film Critics (0/2):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
    • Best Foreign Language Film
  • César Awards (0/1):
    • Best Foreign Film
  • Empire Awards (1/1):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
  • European Film Awards (4/6):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
    • Best Cinematographer (José Luis Alcaine)
    • Best Composer (Alberto Iglesias)
    • Best Director (Pedro Almodóvar)
    • Best Film
    • Best Screenwriter (Pedro Almodóvar)
  • Golden Globe Awards (0/2):
    • Best Actress - Drama (Penélope Cruz)
    • Best Foreign Language Film
  • Goya Awards (5/14):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
    • Best Director (Pedro Almodóvar)
    • Best Film
    • Best Original Score (Alberto Iglesias)
    • Best Supporting Actress (Carmen Maura)
    • Best Cinematography (José Luis Alcaine)
    • Best Costume Design (Sabine Daigeler)
    • Best Make-Up and Hairstyles (Massimo Gattabrusi and Ana Lozano)
    • Best Production Design (Salvador Parra)
    • Best Production Supervision (Toni Novella)
    • Best Screenplay - Original (Pedro Almodóvar)
    • Best Sound
    • Best Supporting Actress (Lola Dueñas)
    • Best Supporting Actress (Blanca Portillo)
  • National Board of Review (1/1):
    • Best Foreign Language Film
  • Satellite Awards (1/4):
    • Best Foreign Language Film
    • Best Actress - Drama (Penélope Cruz)
    • Best Director (Pedro Almodóvar)
    • Best Screenplay - Original (Pedro Almodóvar)
  • Screen Actors Guild (SAG) (0/1):
    • Best Actress (Penélope Cruz)
  • Vancouver Film Critics (1/1):
    • Best Foreign Language Film

Box office

In the US alone, as of May 9, 2007, the film had made $12,897,993 (15.4% of total) in the box office, after 26.4 weeks of release in 689 theatres. The box office figure from the rest of the world is somewhere in the region of $71,123,059 (84.6% of total) according to the results of 'BoxOfficeMojo'. The total worldwide gross was estimated at $84,021,052.[5]

As of January 22, 2007, the film had grossed $12,241,181 at the Spanish Box Office.[6]


Tango by Alfredo Le Pera Volver, celebrated because the Carlos Gardel´s interpretation, is converted to flamenco and is sung in the movie with the voice of Estrella Morente and lip synced by Penélope Cruz.

The dance tune playing at the party prior to Raimunda's lip syncing is called "A good thing" by spanglish three-piece indie-dance combo Saint Etienne.


External links

Preceded by
La Vida Secreta de las Palabras
Goya Award for Best Picture
Succeeded by
La Soledad
Preceded by
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Cannes Film Festival
Prix du scénario

Succeeded by
The Edge of Heaven

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