Using three stories from Alice Munro’s collection Runaway as a jumping off point, Spanish cinema auteur Pedro Almodóvar tells a story of a Madrid woman haunted by her decades-long estrangement from her runaway daughter. When a chance meeting with her daughter’s former best friend reignites her desire to find her, she blows off her new boyfriend to hole up in her apartment and write a long letter. This turns into a second act flashback relating her connection with her daughter’s father on a fateful train ride. She is smitten with the sexy Galatian fisherman, but discomfort with his polyamorous inclinations leads to conflict in the relationship, and ultimately, tragedy for the family.
Unquestionably subdued and restrained by Almodóvar’s standards (spitfire actress Rossy de Palma, an Almodóvar regular is, depressingly, dressed down as a frumpy housekeeper), the movie works well enough, but is not the masterpiece one hopes for each time Almodóvar releases a new flick. One can’t help wondering what kind of film might have sprung from his original intention in optioning the film rights to Munro’s short story collection. According to CBC Radio, he originally intended to film in Northern Ontario, Munro’s setting for the short stories, and have this be his first English language film. Unfortunately he was turned off by the climate and shelved the project for a decade.