Broken Embraces

November 20th 2009
  • Comedy/Thriller,
  • R,
  • 127 min,
  • Sony Pictures Classics
  • Cast: Penélope Cruz, Lluís Homar, Blanca Portillo, José Luis Gómez, Rubén Ochandiano, Tamar Novas, Ángela Molina, Chus Lampreave, Kiti Manver, Lola Dueñas, Mariola Fuentes, Carmen Machi, Kira Miró, Rossy de Palma, Alejo Sauras, Carlos Sampedro, Ramón Pons, Cote Soler, Marta Aledo, Carlos Leal, Chema Ruiz, Dani Martín, Asier Etxeandia, Jons Pappila, Javier Coll, Juan Bautista Cucarella, Lyng Dyrup
  • Director: Pedro Almodóvar
  • Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
  • Producer: Esther García
  • Executive Producer: Agustín Almodóvar
  • Art Direction: Víctor Molero
  • Casting: Luis San Narciso
  • Costume Design: Sonia Grande
  • D.O.P.: Rodrigo Prieto
  • Editor: José Salcedo
  • Makeup: Ana Lozano
  • Music: Alberto Iglesias
  • Production Design: Antxón Gómez


A man writes, lives and loves in darkness. Fourteen years before, he was in a brutal car crash on the island of Lanzarote. In the accident, he not only lost his sight, he also lost Lena, the love of his life.

This man uses two names: Harry Caine, a playful pseudonym with which he signs his literary works, stories and scripts, and Mateo Blanco, his real name, with which he lives and signs the film he directs. After the accident, Mateo Blanco reduces himself to his pseudonym, Harry Caine. If he can't direct films he can only survive with the idea that Mateo Blanco died on Lanzarote with his beloved Lena.

In the present day, Harry Caine lives thanks to the scripts he writes and to the help he gets from his faithful former production manager, Judit García, and from Diego, her son, his secretary, typist and guide.

Since he decided to live and tell stories, Harry is an active, attractive blind man who has developed all his other senses in order to enjoy life, on a basis of irony and self-induced amnesia. He has erased from his biography any trace of his first identity, Mateo Blanco.

One night Diego has an accident and Harry takes care of him (his mother, Judit, is out of Madrid and they decide not to tell her anything so as not to alarm her). During the first nights of his convalescence, Diego asks him about the time when he answered to the name of Mateo Blanco, after a moment of astonishment Harry can't refuse and he tells Diego what happened fourteen years before with the idea of entertaining him, just as a father tells his little child a story so that he'll fall asleep.

The story of Mateo, Lena, Judit and Ernesto Martel is a story of "amour fou," dominated by fatality, jealously, the abuse of power, treachery and a guilt complex. A moving and terrible story, the most expressive image of which is the photo of two lovers embracing, torn into a thousand pieces.

Basic Information

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Filming Locations: Arucas, Canary Islands; Madrid, Spain
  • MPAA Warning: Sexual content, language and some drug material
  • Production Budget: $18 million
  • Production Companies: El Deseo S.A., Universal International Pictures
  • Production Schedule: 26 May 2008 - 5 September 2008

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The roundabout where the main characters have a car accident is the same one where local artist César Manrique died years before in a car accident. César Manrique guided director Pedro Almodóvar in her first visit to Lanzarote, the island where the movie was filmed. Almodóvar has said he was not aware of that fact, and that he found out about it from the news.

The car driven by Lena and Harry Caine/MateoBlanco in Lanzarote is the same red car that is used in "Volver" and in the final scenes of "Átame"

Agustín Almodóvar Pedro Almodóvar's brother, and the film's producer, appears as an employee of Ernesto Martel, in the scene where Lena returns from hospital in crutches. Agustín has cameos in 15 of the 17 films which Pedro Almodóvar has directed.

In an interview with El País in March 2009, Pedro Almodóvar revealed that the idea for the lip reader played by Lola Dueñas came from watching the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Asturias on Spain's Telecinco, where the services of a lip reader were employed by the channel to relay what the couple were saying to each other as they stood at the altar.

The director revealed in an interview that the character played by Carmen Machi was inspired by his real-life friend, Blanca Sánchez, who, in the 1980s, had a relationship with a man who unbeknownst to her was a member of the Basque separatist group E.T.A. Sanchez was also used as the inspiration for the character Candela played by María Barranco in Pedro Almodóvar's breakthrough hit Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1988).

The film within a film 'Girls And Suitcases' is loosely based on Pedro Almodóvar's own film "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown". 'Rosie De Palme' appears in both, although in different roles.

The photograph featured in the film of Harry and Lena embracing on Golfo Beach in Lanzarote has its roots in a real life photograph Pedro Almodóvar took of Golfo Beach whilst there in 2000. When he had the photograph developed, the director saw at the bottom of the photo a couple he hadn't noticed on the day embracing. "I felt that the couple hid a secret", he said later. "The whole island was holding a secret. I had to unveil that secret."

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Worldwide Release Dates

  • 18 March 2009: Spain
  • 20 March 2009: Belgium, France
  • 2 July 2009: Israel
  • 9 July 2009: Russia
  • 6 August 2009: Germany
  • 7 August 2009: Austria
  • 14 August 2009: Finland, Sweden
  • 21 August 2009: Denmark
  • 27 August 2009: Netherlands
  • 28 August 2009: Latvia, UK
  • 3 September 2009: Czech Republic
  • 4 September 2009: Norway
  • 10 September 2009: Croatia, Portugal
  • 24 September 2009: Hungary, Ukraine
  • 25 September 2009: Poland
  • 1 October 2009: Argentina
  • 2 October 2009: Italy
  • 8 October 2009: Greece
  • 9 October 2009: Lithuania
  • 23 October 2009: Estonia
  • 6 November 2009: Iceland
  • 12 November 2009: Slovakia
  • 13 November 2009: Mexico
  • 19 November 2009: South Korea
  • 20 November 2009: Brazil
  • 26 November 2009: Slovenia
  • 26 December 2009: Australia
  • 6 February 2010: Japan