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Broken Embraces

Audience Review

Release Date

2009 (India)
20 Nov 2009 (WorldWide)

Broken Embraces Story

Broken Embraces (Spanish: Los abrazos rotos) is a Spanish film. "Harry Caine" (Lluís Homar) is a blind writer who shares his life with his agent Judit (Blanca Portillo) and her adult son Diego (Tamar Novas).

Slowly, events in the present begin to bring back memories of the past. He hears that millionaire Ernesto Martel (José Luis Gómez) has died; a young film-maker, Ray X, appears and turns out to be Martel's son, Ernesto Martel Junior (Rubén Ochandiano). Diego is hospitalized after an accidental drug overdose in a Madrid nightclub.

"Harry" collects Diego from the hospital and looks after him to avoid worrying his mother. Part of the main storyline is told in flashback as "Harry" narrates a tragic tale of fate, jealousy, abuse of power, betrayal and guilt.

The first flashback is to 1992, when we first meet Magdalena Rivas (Penelope Cruz), better known as 'Lena', a beautiful young secretary and part-time call girl. She gets involved with Ernesto Martel, a millionaire financier, in order to make money to help her sick father. By 1994, she has become Martel's mistress. At this time, "Harry" is still living under his real name, Mateo Blanco, and is working as a film director.

The millionaire is incredibly jealous of Lena, but she is determined to become an actress and manages to win the main role in Blanco's film Chicas y maletas (audiences familiar with Almodovar's work will realize that the fictional film is somewhat similar to Almodóvar's 1988 release Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, except that the Shiite terrorists have been replaced by a cocaine dealer.

Several of the cast of the previous film appear in the fictional one.) Martel spies on Lena and Mateo by sending his inhibited, obsessive gay son, Ernesto Martel Junior, to record the production of the film and hiring a lip-reader (Lola Dueñas) to interpret any conversations on set. Despite his pains, Lena and Mateo begin a passionate affair.

Furious, Martel pushes Lena down the stairs, but when she survives the fall he relents and nurses her back to health. Lena and Blanco escape Martel's hold and go on holiday to Lanzarote where Lena seeks work as a receptionist in a tourist hotel. There Blanco takes on the name of Harry Caine. They read in El Pais that Chicas y maletas has received a very poor critical reception.

Fate intervenes when Blanco is seriously injured and Lena is killed in a car accident, which ironically is immortalized by Ernesto Martel Junior who has been tracking them with his camcorder. Mateo loses his sight permanently. Judit and an 8-year-old Diego arrive to assist Blanco to return to Madrid, but he wants to be known as "Harry Caine" from now on.

Back in the present, Judit confesses to Harry/Mateo her involvement in providing Martel the number of the hotel in Lanzarote, and later reveals to Diego that "Harry" is Diego's father. She also reveals that Martel sabotaged the release of Chicas y maletas, producing the film using the worst takes from each scene. "Harry", having exorcised some demons, decides to return to his life as Mateo Blanco once more.

Both the lost reels of Chicas y maletas and Ernesto Martel Junior's camcorder footage are recovered: Mateo and Diego prepare the film for its long-delayed release. In an earlier scene, Diego and Mateo watch Lena and Mateo's final kiss on Ernesto Jnr's grainy video stock.

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