By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Stylish Almodovar drama is too mature for teens.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Although the drama here is heavy and complex and characters often behave questionably, the ultimate take away is that true love knows no bounds and, while often hard to attain, is worth the cost. The movie also sends that message that love manifests itself in many ways, not just through passion.
Positive Role Models
Some characters speak disparagingly of others, and others are portrayed stereotypically. A woman who marries a much older man out of gratitude later resents him and has an affair with another man (with whom she falls madly in love). A young man is a helpful friend to an older man, who returns the favor when he takes care of the boy after a drug trip gone bad. The rich flaunt their money through jewelry and clothing.
Violence & Scariness
A husband pushes his wife down the stairs, which breaks her legs. He also threatens her when she verbalizes her desire to leave him. A man shoves around another man who's been following him with a camera. Husband and wife argue loudly.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man and a woman heave and moan on a sofa; nothing is seen, but it's clear they're having sex. Before the act, they engage in sexual banter, and, soon after, he fondles her breasts, which are seen close up. Another couple engages in a steamy embrace; they're under the sheets, but their backs, shoulders, and legs are exposed. A woman talks about hating having sex with her husband, whom she pretends to like but despises. Frank talk about sex acts. A man talks crassly about his ex-wives with his current male lover.
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Everything from "son of a bitch" to "f--k" to "ass" to "for God's sake," though not used constantly. Some derogatory terms are also said.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Nightclub DJs talk freely about drug use and offer each other MDMA, meth, and other substances. Characters snort cocaine. One collapses after having a drink spiked with roofies.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this drama -- like Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's other movies -- is a complex, engrossing story with themes that are too mature for even most older teens, including infidelity and spousal abuse. Expect frank sexual discussion and some steamy scenes (lots of moaning and groaning, as well as a close-up view of naked breasts), domestic violence (a man pushes his wife down the stairs), swearing, and drug use.
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Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
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What's the Story?
Screenwriter Harry Caine (Lluis Homar) is a man whose existence is far shorter than his age. He became Caine when he was blinded in a car accident many years earlier -- the same accident that claimed the life of his lover, Lena (Penelope Cruz), a married actress whom he met on the set of the last film he directed, back when he was known as Mateo. But the death of a millionaire entrepreneur has yanked Caine's past back into his present, and it won't be ignored, for good or for ill.
Is It Any Good?
Sensual and stylish, BROKEN EMBRACES showcases Cruz's many gifts, both physical and professional. Playing an unhappily married actress portraying an Audrey Hepburn-like waif in the movie within this Spanish-language movie, she's able to access a gamut of expressions with a tilt of her head and an upturn of her mouth. It all works well with her character, a far-from-saintly but still likeable woman who finally finds passion after marrying out of obligation. But true love exacts a high price, one that pulls many others into a maelstrom that's partly of her making.
The film borders on the melodramatic, and plot twists involving drug abuse gone awry seem random (the movie kind of has an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink feel to it, crowding out the pure drama within). Broken Embraces' references to cinematic history and the movie industry itself may please film buffs, but they won't necessarily impress them -- not with anything that's never been seen before from Almodovar or anyone else.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages and role models. Are any of the characters purely "good" or "bad"? What is the movie saying about love and relationships?
What do you think the movie's title means? To which embraces does it refer? Is it literal or metaphorical?
Why does Harry Caine abandon his identity? If he wanted to forget it, why does he then hang onto evidence of who he once was?
- In theaters: November 20, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 16, 2010
- Cast: Blanca Portillo, Lluis Homar, Penelope Cruz
- Director: Pedro Almodovar
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 128 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, language and some drug material
- Last updated: April 5, 2023
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