Last year, Penélope Cruz shocked many Oscar watchers (not this one) by garnering her fourth Oscar nomination for her honest and brave turn in Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers. She hadn’t won any major precursors outside of a few critics’ awards, so it even surprised her. Previously, Cruz received the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and received nominations for Almodóvar’s Volver and Rob Marshall’s Nine.
Her varied and extensive career includes films in the French, Spanish, English, and Italian languages. Her credits range from big budget studio fare (Sex and the City 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the remake of Murder on the Orient Express), International successes (Belle Epoche, All About My Mother, Pain and Glory), and critically-acclaimed indies (Elegy, The Queen of Spain, Official Competition).
Her latest gem, Emanuele Crialese’s L’immensità (translation: The Immensity), takes place in Rome in the 1970s and focuses on a ruptured family. Cruz plays Clara, a Spanish woman who moves to Italy and assimilates (as she is expected to do) for her husband who turns out to be an adulterous abuser. They have three children, and their eldest, Adriana (Luana Giuliani), begins to experience gender dysphoria and identify as Andrea (a masculine name in Italy).
This partly autobiographical film perfectly captures a time and place when women were trapped in certain roles, and any sign of deviation is treated with malice and punishment.
Cruz delivers yet another mesmerizing, shattering performance as a mother who beats her own drum and wants the same for her children. In several fantasy musical moments, Cruz beguiles, lip synching to a few classics including the Italian version of “Where Do I Begin,” the theme from Love Story.
L’immensità held its world premiere at last year’s Venice Film Festival. Awards Daily had the pleasure of Zoom chatting with Cruz as the film is set to open in the US today (May 12).