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Almodóvar’s Near-Misses

Almodóvar has a fitful friendship with America, the world’s dominant cinematic culture. After “Women on the Verge,” he got many offers from Hollywood. He turned down “Sister Act,” the 1992 comedy about singing nuns, and in the early aughts he nearly agreed to direct “Brokeback Mountain.” He said of these demurrals, “Maybe it’s because I didn’t trust my English. Or maybe it’s because, even though they always tell me I’ll have artistic liberty—final cut—there is always a moment when I don’t believe it.”

He appreciates the fact that American film critics championed his work from the start, but one aspect of their support confused him: many defined him as a gay director. It was a useful label for him—the gay press helped to make him well known in the States—but an ironic one for an artist whose films had done so much to suggest that sexuality was not so easily defined.