Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver is all but familiar to us, having the same kind of drama we would expect in Filipino telenovelas. The Spanish culture of tending to the graves of our loved ones is similar to us paying tributes to the dead during All Souls’ day. Visiting our relatives, especially the old ones, and bringing home food by our family are also very familiar aspects of culture to us. However, it is in the relationships between family, most especially of mother and child, that I believe we are all able to resonate with. With Volver’s strong take on a mother’s undying love for her child, we see women come together to fight systems that has left them vulnerable. The past comes back in Volver, and it will not settle until each woman is left stronger.
One of the firsts dramatic twists in the film is seeing Raimunda’s daughter, Paula, murder her father after he sexually assaults her. Of course to the audience, such scene is gruesome because a child has been violated by her own father. Yet, this does not stop Raimunda and despite the crime, her motherly instincts come first. In such scene, we can’t help but agree with Raimunda’s actions. You could tell the strong emotions both the character were feeling, yet the mother remained strong, even showing little weakness as she and her daughter carry the corpse of the man of their family. After the incident, Raimunda’s life seemed to be going better as opportunities came her way. We see her unaffected by such incident and continue to work and still act normally despite being questioned about her husband’s fate.
However, her will to live life as if murder has not just loomed over Raimunda, is questionable. Although the film in its first few hours seem to be a slice of an unfortunate life, we later find out that Raimunda’s mother is back from the grave, apparently resurrected. Although surprising, it seems that the characters Sole and Paula have easily adjusted to having the mother, Irene, back. With the introductions of the women, we see different lives play out; we see each of them struggle to hide behind the truth. Raimunda, for example, hides her husband’s body in the kitchen as she strives in running the restaurant assigned to her. Sole takes care of her mother, whom she hides from her sister. And Irene, seems to be having some secrets of her own. And just as we thought, there was more to Irene’s sudden reappearance and later reveals her secret to her estranged daughter, Raimunda.
We see a cycle in the lives of the women in the film, and we see how the men are portrayed to be the poison in their lives, both limiting and abusive. Yet, the strong women portrayed in the film overcame such obstacles, with little to no care about the consequences of their actions. These are all too familiar given that our culture is matriarchal. We’re familiar with women leading our home life and having discipline for the family. We see the hardships of our mothers and admittedly, are the super heroes in our lives. Although Volver seems to portray a more dangerous depth to a mother’s love, we can’t help but agree that maybe our own mothers might just do the same.