Pedro Almodovar's love affair with his leading lady is legend, as is his romance with movie stars of old. In his new movie, Broken Embraces, the Closing Night feature of the recent New York Film Festival that will open on Friday, he casts Penelope Cruz as a call girl/actress in a movie within the movie; with wigs and wardrobe she morphs into Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monoe, Anna Magnani, Audrey Hepburn. He also plays with the now familiar Almodovar tropes: hidden identity in the case of Mateo Blanco/Harry Caine, his surrogate filmmaker, and the young man Diego who will find out who his father is.
Early on in this melodrama of revenge, Mateo/Harry tells the story of Arthur Miller and his Down Syndrome son with the photographer Inge Morath, which essentially becomes a tale of son-to-father forgiveness. Teasing out these strands of psychological connective tissue is one of the many pleasures of watching Almodovar films. Another pleasure here is seeing Cruz in her red Dior suit and platforms -- red is surely the color of passion, and these pumps are meant to topple.
At a special screening on Tuesday night at the Crosby Hotel, Cruz wore a demure white, and introduced this film saying Pedro was sorry he could not attend. "You will miss him, and I will miss him more," she says of the man who she acknowledges nurtured her growth into international stardom. Evident of her post-Oscar stature, she is one in the sisterhood of Nine, the much anticipated film based on the Broadway musical to open in December. Her Nine co-star Marion Cotillard joined Cruz for the after party at the Standard Hotel in the Meat Packing District with its extraordinary panoramic views. No, she did not keep those red shoes Cruz told me. Those belong to her character.