Pedro Almodóvar’s best film since Law of Desire, All About My Mother is an affecting ode to the female spirit, the maternal instinct and the craving for melodrama—a soulful mix of comedy and tragedy so life-affirming it leaves you hankering for your mother’s embrace. The death of a young teen, Esteban (Eloy Azorín), is the catalyst for a spectacle of female get-togetherness when his mother, Manuela (Cecilia Roth), takes to Barcelona in search of surrogate love, trying to find a purpose beyond his death. It’s there that she becomes a mother-substitute to a group of emotionally crippled women and transvestites. Almodóvar delicately weaves themes from Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire into an already florid paella of dramatic and emotional theatrics, painting, among other visions, a tragic picture of Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes) as a miserable, aging actress coming to terms with her potential as a woman and her role in Esteban’s death (during the film’s ravishing finale, she uses his demise as sense memory during a production of Blood Wedding). Almodóvar’s devotion to women is a passion so intense and sublime it blows the Kinsey scale to smithereens: The film’s men don’t want to meet women half way, they want to become them—but these half-women are tragic not because they are in between two sexes but because they are convinced, as dictates their patriarchal society, that they can only feel if they take on the form of a woman. The whole of the film is a tapestry of female-centric insights and allusions, both comic and tragic: Most visionary is Manuela’s dizzying journey though the tunnels leading to and from Barcelona, which evoke a passage through a vaginal canal. Just as Manuela knows where she is going, Almodóvar knows where we all came from.
- Pedro Almodóvar
- Pedro Almodóvar
- Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Antonia San Juan, Penélope Cruz, Candela Peña, Toni Cantó, Eloy Azorín
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