Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Are the heroines of Pedro Almodóvar 's films often, in one way or another, stand-ins for him? That's a common enough critical theory, and if there's truth in it, then his “The Flower of My Secret” suggests intriguing possibilities. The Spanish director's new film tells the story of Leo, a woman who writes trashy but wildly popular romantic novels under a pseudonym. They pay well, but she despises them--hates them so much she adopts another pseudonym in order to write an article attacking them.
Does Almodóvar feel the same way about his own career? I hope not, because his previous films, while uneven and not always successful, have at least exhibited a cheerful anarchic trashiness that would bring life to this new and more serious film.
I was reminded while watching it of the Henry James story “The Next Time” about two novelists--a popular writer who wants to be serious but is not good enough, and a serious writer who wants to be popular but is simply too good. Almodóvar's strength lies in his popular entertainments, and perhaps he should get nowhere near drama except with his tongue in his cheek.
Leo (Marisa Paredes), the film's key character, is rich because of her steamy potboilers, but not happy. Her husband Paco (Imanol Aris) believes there is no hope for their marriage, and we are inclined to agree since he has joined a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia simply to get away from her. Leo is depressed, drinks too much (“Drinking is all I am really good at”), tries to commit suicide, and discovers unhappy truths about Paco and herself.