Behind every great actor is a great director. Leonardo DiCaprio has Martin Scorsese, Johnny Depp has Tim Burton, and Penélope Cruz has Pedro Almodóvar. Cruz, in particular, is a completely different actress when working with the Spanish director. Whether it’s the material he writes for her or the fact that she’s acting in her native language, every time they get together, something magical happens. Their latest collaboration, “Broken Embraces,” isn’t their strongest project to date, but it’s much better as result of Cruz’s involvement. A time-spanning love story filled with passion and revenge, the film stars Lluis Homar as Harry Caine, a blind screenwriter who recalls the story of falling in love with an aspiring actress (Cruz) while on the set of his latest movie, even though she was the mistress of his jealous financier (José Luis Gómez). The principal cast all turn in solid performances – Cruz channels an Audrey Hepburn-like innocence as the object of both men’s affection, Homar brings grace to an otherwise unlikeable character, and Gómez is a real villain’s villain – but the story just isn’t that compelling. Though Almodóvar infuses his film with bright colors and some hypnotically beautiful shots of his leading lady, the story dangerously borders on becoming a cheesy telenovella. It never quite reaches that point, but it’s enough to suggest you won’t love “Broken Embraces” nearly as much as fans of the director were expecting.

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