Almodovar began an incredible creative run with the profoundly affecting, searing and multi-layered masterpiece All About My Mother (this was followed by Talk to Her, Bad Education, Volver, Broken Embraces). The lushly beautiful, visually sumptuous, emotionally ravishing and thematically rich film, with a mesmeric interplay between bawdy humour and heartbreaking melancholia, tackled complex subjects with disarming ease – gender identity, homosexuality, AIDS, prostitution, marital fidelity, familial estrangement, feminism, grief and regrets. Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a nurse and single mother, is struck by cataclysmic loss when her loving son Esteban (Eloy Azorin) is accidentally killed right after a memorable theatrical viewing of A Streetcar Named Desire – it starred stage actress Huma (Marisa Paredes) who her son admired, and she had herself played the protagonist during her younger days. Manuela severs ties with Madrid and shifts to Barcelona in search of Lola (Toni Cantó), a trans-woman who was her husband many years back, as neither Lola nor Esteban were aware of the other’s existence. In her journey back to a part of her life that she’d long left behind, she bonds with unforgettable women who, for varying reasons, are all outsiders – Huma, in an affair with fellow actress (Candela Peña) who’s a drug-addict; Rosa (Penélope Cruz), a vulnerable nun who helps sex workers and has become HIV+ after becoming pregnant with Lola; and Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a witty, vivacious transsexual prostitute. Packed with dazzling performances led by the riveting Roth, framed with vibrant colours, set to an intoxicating soundtrack, comprising of elaborate fade-ins and dissolves often leading to dream-like superimposition of images, and filled with infectious joie de vivre, this was a stunning triumph by a maestro at the pinnacle of his artistic prowess.
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Ensemble Film