Fearless, radical and politically conscious writers, filmmakers and documentarians – from Primo Levi to Eduardo Galaeno, Carlos Saura to Theo Angelopoulos, Claude Lanzmann to Patricio Guzmán – have always told us that one must combat fascism and oppression not just in the present, but also in the past by defiantly refusing to forget. The act of remembering, in other words, is a powerful weapon. Almodóvar, who’s always sided with outsiders, misfits, delinquents, subversives and outcasts in his flamboyant, non-conformist and boldly transgressive filmography, decided to powerfully confront Spain’s murky fascist, Francoist past – which the country’s politicos had decided to obliterate with its “Pact of Forgetting” while transitioning into democracy, and which is finally being restored with its “Law of Historical Memory” – in his dazzling, sumptuous and richly textured melodrama Parallel Mothers. Janis (Penélope Cruz) is a photographer in her 40s who, like her mom, becomes a single mother upon an affair with a forensic archaeologist (Israel Elejalde), whose help she sought for excavation of a mass grave where men were murdered and buried during the Spanish Civil War. At the hospital she befriends pregnant teenager Ana (Milena Smit), who was raped at a rave party and whose mother (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) is pursuing a career in acting. The lives of the ravishing, independent Janis and the rebellious, vulnerable Ana – brilliantly played by the respective actresses – become intricately entangled on account of their babies, and more so upon becoming lovers. The acts of confronting and addressing loss, unhealed wounds, inconvenient truths and troublesome memories – at both personal and national levels – therefore, were the key tenets which the Spanish maestro magnificently captured with sensitivity, sensuousness, passion, verve and through his quintessentially gorgeous aesthetic palette.
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Romantic Drama