Pedro Almodovar is a director that isn’t afraid of taking risks. He is able to push his actresses and his plots to extremes in order to convey a certain take on life. Sometimes he succeeds and he is able to make me cry like in All About my Mother. But sometimes he fails to go far enough and he produces a movie like The Flower of my Secret.
Leo Macias is a successful romance novelist. But she resents her fame and her legacy. This leads to her penchant for consuming alcohol and taking a job at a newspaper to write an article against herself. She is abandoned by the people she thought were closest to her. Her husband flees to Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission to get away from her. Her best friend is having sex with her husband behind her back. Her housekeeper is making plans to leave her employ to pursue dancing. Even her manuscript betrays her by finding its way to a movie producer and getting turned into a screenplay without her knowledge. What is a romance novelist to do?
This film was easy to follow and easy to forget. Leo is a dynamic character that was played really well, but it doesn’t save the plot. Every twist and turn is problematic and overwrought. Every character is placed in the film just to create obstacles for the main character. They have no dimension to themselves and they disappear just as easily as they arrive. At a certain point the plot was so convoluted and shoved together that I just stopped paying attention. I am quickly realizing that I didn’t pay attention enough to even know what happened to her at the end. My indifference to this film prevents me from looking it up.
Working with melodrama is a delicate balance that not a lot of directors can pull off. You must be able to push the character to such an extreme that they lie broken and alone at a certain point without sacrificing some sort of reality that is a part of the world you built. Too often the director throws too many things at the main character to sustain the tension and seriousness of the picture. The result of this is to create an unintentional farce that makes the actions and emotions of the main characters false. This is what Almodovar does here with Leo. Just one of her problems would have been enough to sustain a film. Instead Almodovar is detrimined to throw four movies worth of plot at her to see her reaction. A character can only be in hysterics for so long before it becomes funny. Leo is turned into an unintentional clown.