Not many directors could take a film built around the theme of death and make it as funny, thoughtful, and deeply meaningful as Pedro Almodóvar has with Volver, now officially Spain's nominee for the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture. The film revolves around three generations of women: Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) and her daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo) live with Raimunda's husband, an unemployed laborer who spends his spare time checking out his daughter's blossoming body. Raimunda's sister, Sole (Lola Dueñas) supports herself by running an unlicensed beauty shop out of her apartment. As we meet Raimunda, Sole and Paula, they are at the cemetery cleaning the graves of Raimunda and Sole's parents, who died in a fire.

In La Mancha, where Raimunda's parents lived, the east wind blows incessantly, driving people to the brink of insanity. This is a superstitious culture, where the dead are respected, graves are kept clean and tombstones well-polished, and the dead occasionally walk among the living -- especially if they have unfinished business. When Raimunda and Sole go to visit their elderly aunt, they are surprised to find that she refers to their dead mother, Irene, as though she has just seen her. It doesn't take long for Abuela Irene (Carmen Maura) to appear to Sole and Paula, though she conceals her presence from Raimunda. It is with Raimunda, and with Raimunda and Sole's friend Agustina (Blanca Portillo) that Abuela Irene has unfinished business to resolve.