Leo (Marisa Parides) writes popular romance novels under a pseudonym, but, mired in a loveless marriage to an adulterous military man in Bosnia, she no longer has the desire to write her profitable melodramatic stories. When writer’s block strikes, she gets a job working as a literary critic for a newspaper, and she promptly trashes her novels as sensational and simplistic while her editor – a pudgy romantic named Angel (Juan Echanove) who quotes Casablanca and references The Apartment – writes a counterpoint article championing the florid books. In Pedro Almodóvar’s 1995 The Flower of My Secret, the director dramatizes the contentious relationship between fiction and reality via Leo, who, despite despising the unreality of her work, eventually accepts (after writing a zany Almodóvar-ish novel) that although fiction is inherently false, it nonetheless conveys, at its best, fundamental truths about the human soul. There’s the usual gaggle of Almodóvar zaniness strewn throughout this messy, colorful romp – a maid who wants to be a dancer, Leo’s cranky mother and her “horse face” sister, pills and suicide attempts galore – and the director’s affecting use of teary-eyed close-ups imbues the film with more passion and frivolous humor than was found in the dreadful High Heels or somber Kika. Although Leo hates romance novels, the always-mischievous Almodóvar ironically provides a cheerful ending in which Leo and Angel find happiness in each other’s arms. Yet since this cinematic satirist is as deeply suspicious of sentimentality as he is a hopeless romantic, Almodóvar makes sure that the optimistic conclusion isn’t simply preordained but, rather, hard earned.