The plot originates in Almodóvar's earlier film The Flower of My Secret (1995), where it features as a novel which is rejected for publication but is stolen to form the screenplay of a film named The Freezer. Drawing inspiration from the Italian neorealism of the late 1940s to early 1950s and the work of pioneering directors such as Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, Volver addresses themes like sexual abuse, loneliness and death, mixing the genres of farce, tragedy, melodrama, and magic realism. Set in the La Mancha region, Almodovar's place of birth, the filmmaker cited his upbringing as a major influence on many aspects of the plot and the characters.
Volver was one of the films competing for the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. It eventually won two awards: Best Actress (shared by the six main actresses) and Best Screenplay. The film's premiere was held on March 10, 2006, in Puertollano, Spain, where the filming had taken place. Penélope Cruz was nominated for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the second Spanish woman ever to be nominated in that category.