Janis (Penelope Cruz) is a skilled fashion photographer. While working, she meets Arturo (Israel Elejalde), who wins her heart after a few dates. After several secretive meetings with Arturo, Janis’ life changes dramatically when she falls pregnant and accepts that she will be raising the child independently. When it’s time to give birth at a local hospital, Janis shares a room with a woman named Ana (Milena Smit), a young teenager who is also about to give birth without the support of a partner.
While leading up to the final stages of giving birth, Janis and Ana strike up an unlikely connection, and a new friendship begins. Janis even offers Ana her phone number should the two ever wish to meet up, share conversations and support each other; after all, the two now certainly have a lot in common. As Janis moves forward raising her daughter on her own, she soon makes a large discovery that could alter her world. Janis investigates her theories while keeping the new intel to herself and continues raising her daughter and working behind the camera. But it’s not long until Janis and Ana meet once again at a local coffee shop.
Director Pedro Almodovar uses his signature touches on this film, making it instantly recognisable as one of his creations. One of these signature touches includes working with lead actress Penelope Cruz again, who delivers a tremendous performance here. Janis, as a character, goes through several moments of emotion as she attempts to juggle everything that life throws at her. Still, more importantly, she is dealing with possibilities that also haunt her thoughts and dreams. Janis is highly likeable and carries energetic moments of both fun and drama.
The pacing of this film, for the most part, is great. I was surprised by the introduction of a few mysteries, which are thrilling to see unfold, even though I found the outcomes highly predictable long before the reveals. There are several subplots that sometimes overstay their welcome and drag the film on longer than I prefer. Some subplots include Ana’s relationship with her mother or Janis fighting hard for her family to have a respectful burial. Please don’t get me wrong; these moments are powerful and important to the leading characters and story, but they stay longer than they should. These moments sometimes even serve as a distraction from the touching and more important main plot.
When it comes to the musical score, it’s fun. The music here reminded me of classic films with thrilling instrumental numbers that feel like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Many scenes conclude with a fade, which was a nice touch and made viewers feel as though they were watching a professional stage play at a different time and place.
Overall, I walked into the film with a brief understanding of its plot, and the film exceeded my expectation with its drama, mysteries and thrills. For the most part, the film’s pace is great, but sadly, some subplots overstay their welcome, and I found major mysteries that were introduced highly predictable, and the same can be said for key aspects of the plot. Penelope Cruz is outstanding here, and her performance is both successfully touching and dramatic. The film’s musical score is a nice surprise, and it reminded me of older classic thrillers. Fans of director Pedro Almodovar will generally know what to expect here and will certainly benefit from this film the most.