Volver is a slap on the face of machismo in Spain. In a country known steeped in machismo, a film that tackles femininity through the daily problems of a typical family can seem quite odd at first. It can even be compared to mainland Chinese being expected to teach other people how to use Facebook when they are banned from using Facebook themselves.
However, Volver successfully captures the essence of feminism shockingly well. Its dark but funny script makes for a memorable experience that women from all corners of the world would surely find enjoyable.
The female characters in the film prove that it is possible to exude strength and power even in a society where women are taught to stay home, sit pretty, and satisfy their husbands’ sexual desires. In fact, Raimunda does the exact opposite of all these things. Being the best mother she can be, Raimunda works to support her daughter, Paula. She even rejected her husband, Paco, when he came on to her one night. Perhaps because of this unmet sexual need, Paco chose to force himself on Paula. But we all know this was a stupid move done by him which cost him his own life. Well-deserved, if you ask me.
After Paco’s death, Raimunda’s life changed in a good way. She did not just become the head chef of a restaurant, which she became very passionate about, she also became a happier person– singing with a band on a random Spanish street. Without a doubt, the male characters in Volver were antagonistic, unreliable, and useless. Raimunda’s father did not just rape her, he also cheated on his wife with a different woman. Aside from this, Sole’s husband left her without notice. And as we already know, Raimunda’s husband lost his job and then attempted to rape his own daughter.
Ultimately, the way the male characters slowly eased out of the film and were not really given much attention to shows how they don’t really have that much importance to the women they left behind. A sense of sisterhood and of female togetherness were enough to support one another and carry on with their lives in flying colors.
Moreover, there were a lot of topics present in the film, including incest, sexual abuse, and motherhood. Aside from these, I believe that self-fulfillment was also an important factor which contributed to the women’s identities. Although women were not supposed to work, Sole had a successful salon hidden in her apartment, which she enjoyed very much. Besides this, Raimunda’s restaurant was a hit to her customers, which brought her great achievement. This says a lot about the significance of finding something that you are passionate about, which can also define you as a person. I can relate to this as my philosophy in life. For me, it’s not enough to merely survive, you also have to make something of yourself in order to live. How Sole and Raimunda were able to do this in a society which restricted women from doing so explicitly demonstrates women empowerment. Above all, Sole and Raimunda give me hope that if they were able to become successful women given the society they were in, what more, I?