Broken Embraces is Pedro Almodovar's stab at Hitchcockian noir. Let's see how the Spanish filmmaker stacks up against the master of suspense.

Broken Embraces is Pedro Almodovar's stab at Hitchcockian noir. Let's see how the Spanish filmmaker stacks up against the master of suspense.

The characters: You've got Mateo (Lluis Homar), an aging director blinded years ago in a car accident. Lena (Penelope Cruz) is the star of what should have been his masterpiece. Then there's Ernesto, an old-guy financier who completes the Mateo-Lena love triangle.

Verdict: +

The story: That accident may have had something to do with the creepy Ernesto. Or maybe it had something to do with Judit (Blanca Portillo), his perhaps-too-devoted agent. There's a lot more to this twisty tale, and not in a good way.

Verdict: -

Leading lady: Here's where Almodovar surpasses Hitchcock. His muse Cruz is just as gorgeous as any of Hitch's blondes, and her complicated wannabe actress is way more interesting to watch than those ice queens.

Verdict: +

The look: Almodovar doesn't abandon his signature vivid and colorful style for a gritty noir feel, and that's a good thing - this movie's beautiful. The candy-colored set is the best thing about the otherwise dull movie-within-the-movie.

Verdict: +

The twist: There are two main twists, one of which you'll see coming from miles away; the other you won't care about one bit. They're both explicitly detailed near the end of the movie in an unnecessary, talky scene.

Verdict: -

The bottom line: This uneven thriller doesn't measure up, but Almodovar aficionados will love it.