The salvation of Penelope Cruz

Recent Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz is no doubt deeply grateful that becoming Almodovar's diva has proved the salvation of her own career, says Esquire film critic Richard T Kelly. 

"Penelope Cruz, more than most of us, will want to forget the likes of Vanilla Sky, or Captain Corelli's Mandolin, where her voice in English lacked any music and her presence seemed merely, but mistakenly, decorative. I was never a big fan of hers before, but I have to say (somewhat bashfully) that in Broken Embraces she's a bit of a goddess.

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"The clinching scene in this respect occurs when main protagonist Mateo has Lena try out a riot of different wigs before a dressing-room mirror, morphing her from Monroe-esque sex-bomb to a gamine Audrey Hepburn. The strange mutability of female beauty is one of the classic themes of cinema - see Hitchcock's Vertigo and its many imitators - and here Cruz and Almodovar play a delicious variation on the same." 

Broken Embraces is out on 28 August

Read Richard T Kelly's full review on page 101 of the September issue.