Pedro Almodovar's latest, "BROKEN EMBRACES" is now available on blu-ray and dvd from SONY. The layers of storytelling used by Almodovar may at first seem too complex for some filmgoers, but a master is at work here, and everything comes together smoothly as the narrative unfolds. Lluis Homar stars as Mateo Blanco, a filmmaker blinded in a car accident 14 years earlier, which also took the love of his life, Lena. Mateo Blanco, his real name, is how he has always identified himself on the films he's made, but he's always used a pseudonym, "Harry Caine," to identify his work on scripts and other literary work he has done. Because of the trauma of that fateful night, and the consequential inability to direct that blindness has brought, he's chosen to continue living only as the alter ego, Harry Caine, preferring Mateo to have been lost with his great love, Lena. Harry is living decently, thanks to the scripts he still writes and sells, and the wonderful help he's given by his friend/former production manager, Judit and her son, Diego. One evening, when Diego is injured, it's now time for Harry to reverse roles and take care of him. While helping Diego sleep, Harry is asked by him to tell the story of his earlier life, when he was Mateo. Harry complies and the heart of "BROKEN EMBRACES," a visually stunning, passionate, suspenseful tale, with a tinge of film-noir(even as colorful as the film is)is revealed. "BROKEN EMBRACES," in a word, is a "masterpiece!" To explain anymore would hurt the various surprises in store for the viewer, but anyone appreciating Almodovar's other films, will be well satisfied here.
SONY has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this AVC MPEG-4 1080p blu-ray release. Colors are solid and, keeping with Almodovar's style, stunning! Unfortunately, most of the image does appear flat. However, as disappointing as the lack of depth is, fleshtones and contrast is quite good, with detail never becoming lost in shadow, at least on blu-ray. The 16:9 enhanced dvd does suffer from erratic contrast in spots. Detail is solid, but never remarkable on blu-ray. The dvd provides detail on par with the better dvds, so it's even more disappointing to find the blu-ray not being much notably better than dvd in this area.
SONY has provided a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. While not an aggressive mix, ambient effects are purposeful and effective when utilized. Music is used with a sweeping romantic effect, and it's the highlight to this otherwise average mix. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix found on the dvd is typically on par with the lossy mix, however the dynamic range is more limited than what's presented, especially in terms of music, for the lossy mix.
SONY has provided some notable extras for this release, including an original short film by Almodovar, with its central character being a holdover from one in "BROKEN EMBRACES." However, it's only in 480p. A brief featurette focusing on Almodovar's experience directing Penelope Cruz only runs about 5 minutes, but is really worth watching. Deleted scenes are actually provided for in 1080p! Theatrical trailers are also available in 1080p.