All About My Mother (1999) / Drama

MPAA Rated: R for sexuality including strong sexual dialogue, language and some drug content
Running time: 101
min.

Cast: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Candela Pena, Antonia San Juan, Toni Canto, Eloy Azorin
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Screenplay: Pedro Almodovar

Review published March 1, 2000

Pedro Almodovar's (Bad Education, Volver) career as a filmmaker has been one of strong female characters, homosexuals, transvestites, and realistic emotional truths. All About My Mother, one of his more serious works, is no exception in this area. Also, like most of Almodovar's previous works, it's quite good, and adds another distinguished and thought-provoking film in an already impressive oeuvre of work, winning him the Oscar for Best Foreign film.

In this one, a single mother named Lola (Canto) living in Madrid as a nurse has her life turned upside down when her teenage son is killed by a car while trying to hunt down an autograph from a famous stage actress named Huma (Paredes, Life is Beautiful). She travels back to her original hometown of Barcelona to notify the boy's father, who never knew the boy existed, and to tell him about the boy's death. While there she meets up with an old transsexual friend, Agrado (San Juan, Piedras), and Agrado's nun friend (Cruz, Abre Los Ojos) who turns out to have been knocked up and given the HIV virus from Esteban (Azorin, Gran Hotel), Lola's former husband. Frequenting the play at which her son is killed now that it has moved to Barcelona, she befriends the actress Huma and soon becomes her personal assistant.

With the aforementioned talents of Pedro Almodovar, and a great ensemble cast of actresses (some of them male), this is a quirky but quality film all of the way. Refreshingly original, with a terrific score by Alberto Iglesias (The Dancer Upstairs, The Constant Gardener), and a great performance by Cecilia Roth (Tratame Bien), it's an absorbing serio-comic story of one woman's quest to put the pieces of her life back together after losing all that she was.

Lots of parallels to A Streetcar Named Desire and All About Eve complete the feel of the film, and although dealing with tragic situations, Almodovar blends the comedy with the ease and efficiency of a master craftsman. For those who seek something a little different, All About My Mother is about as good a choice to make as any.

Qwipster's rating:

2002 Vince Leo