Secret admirer

Spanish filmmaker Pedro /'\lmodovar has handed in his crown as the king of kitsch, opting for maturer work with The Flower (If'My Secret. Trevor Johnston applauds the move.

y first films used to scandalise people. but now the same viewers are scandalised because I don’t scandalise them like I used to. They just can‘t accept it. But I’m the one who makes the films. I make the films I want to make. And that’s the bottom line.‘

With his eleventh feature. Pedro Almodovar has more then earned the right to put his cards on the table. For several years now. he's been going through the same syndrome Woody Allen analysed in Starr/us! Memories the ‘but we liked the early. funny ones better‘ routine. (‘ritics and audiences alike have appeared slightly uneasy about the tentative balance between the old outrageousness and a newly developing commitment to exploring a deeper emotional landscape that runs through Tie Me (ll/if He He Uowrr’. High Heels and Kika.

In the last film in particular. with its grotesque fashions and ‘comedy‘ rape scene. it seemed as if Spain‘s best—known and best-loved film-

‘It’s true to say I cried a lot when l was making this movie, but I cried in the sense that it was liberating. I felt freer, more in contact with things.’

maker had taken chic excess about as far as it could go. Pedro looked like a man in need of a new direction. If. however. the mark of the greatest artists is their ability to reinvent their work while remaining true to themselves. Almodovar‘s undeniable artistry has found significant vindication with the release of The Flower Of My Secret. Detailing one woman’s emotional and creative crisis. the film does away with the sexual gymnastics. the crazed hipsters and the ironic quotation marks that had long since become part of the Almodovar scene. This is his most simple. unadorned and touching movie to date. Without doubt. it’s his best work since ll’omeh ()n The Verge ()f A Nervous Breakdown and. arguably. his best ever. ‘Sometimes I‘m attracted towards craziness. sometimes l‘m more interested in pain.’ says Almodovar. perched on the edge of a sofa in a very traditional London hotel. In a black-and-

“) The List 26 Jan-8 Feb 1996