After her son is killed in an accident, Manuela (Cecilia Roth) leaves Madrid for her old haunts in Barcelona. She reconnects with an old friend, a pre-op transsexual prostitute named La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), who intro... more »duces her to Rosa (Penélope Cruz), a young nun who turns out to be pregnant. Meanwhile, Manuela becomes a personal assistant for Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), an actress currently playing Blanche DuBois in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. All About My Mother traces the delicate web of friendship and loss that binds these women together. The movie is dedicated to the actresses of the world, so it's not surprising that all the performances are superb. Roth in particular anchors All About My Mother with compassion and generosity. But fans of writer-director Pedro Almodóvar needn't fret--as always, Almodóvar's work undermines conventional notions of sexual identity and embraces all human possibilities with bright colors and melodramatic plotting. However, All About My Mother approaches its twists and turns with a broader emotional scope than most of Almodóvar's work; even the more extravagant aspects of the story are presented quietly, to allow the sadness of life to be as present as the irrepressible vitality of the characters. Almodóvar embraces pettiness, jealousy, and grief as much as kindness, courage, and outrageousness, and the movie is the richer for it. --Bret Fetzer« less
Luis Hernandez | New York, New York, USA | 07/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Todo Sobre Mi Madre," or "All About My Mother," revolves around the life of an organ transplant coordinator, Manuela, who was briefly shown in one of Almodovar's most recent movie "The Flower of My Secret". After the death of her only child, Manuela sets off from Madrid to Barcelona to find both his father and the traveling troupe who performs "A Streetcar Named Desire," throughout Spain.Argentinian actress Cecilia Roth is both excellent and convincing as Manuela. Her performance for an actress not from Spain is original, since most of Almodovar's leading startlets are Spaniards. Marisa Paredes as Huma, a fading starlet, reminded me of her performance in "High Heels," wher she played a similar character. However the two emerging standouts in this film are Antonia San Juan as Manuela's drag-queen friend (fact: although she looks like a man, San Juan is actually a woman) and the beautiful Penelope Cruz, who plays a HIV-positive pregnant nun (only Almodovar can bring us such characters). Cruz, who radiates natural beauty and style has become Spain hottest export to Hollywood since Antonio Banderas. Keep an eye out for her in the near future.The visual arrangement of colors, patterns, and clothes brings the film so much beauty it is unbearable not to watch and adore it. Almodovar's camera illusions, especially watching a grieving Manuela run to her injured son, Esteban, after he is struck by a car (the camera looks like if the victim is watching his mother run in the rain) and the trick of watching Esteban write in his journal (we see his pencil move through a glass that is supposed to be his pad) is amazing. Only the pure genius that Almodovar is could have thought of this.This happens to be Almdovar's best film in the past 10 years. Truly, if you are an artist, an admirer of Spanish culture, or just love art films, then this film will fascinate you. A true gem in the evolution of Spanish cinema."
All About Almodovar
John Cardenas | Ontario, CA United States | 04/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A flashy, sophisticated swirl of color, design, and art nouveau excess courtesy of the city of Barcelona frame a melodramatic core of prima donna antics and suffering mujeres. These women are way past a nervous breakdown--Cecilia Roth's raw emotions set the tone for much of the film; the transgender Antonia San Juan provides the madcap Almodovar wit of his earlier movies. Penelope Cruz stands out--a dark beauty who gives a haunting, fragile performance as an HIV-infected, pregnant nun. Throw in Marisa Paredes as an aging diva with ruby hair touring in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire and the stage is set for Almodovar's tribute to suffering womanhood, replete with wistful references to All About Eve. Not as consistently enjoyable as some of his earlier work but perhaps more mature and sad, more resigned to the vicissitudes of love and death. It's amazing that Almodovar--the greatest Spanish director since Bunuel--could have remained true to his sensibility and have won an academy award. He's Bunuel with none of the bitterness--Bunuel with a smile and a wink at the absurd."
Almodovar's Greatest work! The pinnacle of Foregin Films.
kareem tabsch | Miami, FLorida, USA | 07/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A director has reached the top of his profession when he is referred to by one name alone (Ex: Spielberg, Coppola, and Scorcesse). Pedro Almodovar has reached that point in his career and his latest film, All About My Mother, has secured his place among the greatest directors of his generation; not only in his native Spain but also all over the world. A splendid cast headed by Argentinean actress Cecilia Roth, legendary Spanish actress Marissa Paredes and younger stars Penelope Cruz and Candela Peña turns this film into the meeting of two era's of the Spanish cinema. Manuela, a single young mother (Cecilia Roth) loses her son to an auto accident after seeing a production of A Street Car Named Desire starring Huma Rojo (Marissa Paredes) on his birthday. Destroyed by the death of her son, Manuela travels from Madrid to Barcelona to find the boy's father and tell him that when she left him nearly two decades before she was pregnant with his child who was now dead. Upon arriving in Barcelona, Manuela accidentally reunites with La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a transsexual friend who she left behind when she fled from Barcelona so many years ago. La Agrado in turn introduces her to Sister Rosa (Penelope Cruz), a nun who becomes very close to Manuela. When Sister Rosa is taken ill it is Manuela who cares for her, and becomes somewhat her surrogate mother while still trying to deal with the loss of her own son. While in Barcelona she goes to see A Streetcar Named Desire starring Huma Rojo, the actress who had left her son so impressed when they saw it Madrid. One thing leads to another and Manuela starts working as Huma's personal assistant, trying to keep her life in order and trying to keep Nina (Huma's Lesbian heroine addict lover) under control. Add to the pot the birth of a baby, a funeral, AIDS, and a dear old man with Alzheimer's and you have one of the greatest Spanish language films ever made, portraying subjects that only American Directors like Quentin Tarantino may be brave enough to tackle. The most Humorous scenes involve the transsexual La Agrado as she recalls her days of prostitution and the expenses of her cosmetic surgery. Cecilia Roth's performance as Manuela is extraordinary and Penelope Cruz's portrayal of Sister Rosa makes it obvious as to why Vanity Fair chose her as one of the hottest youngest actresses of her generation. I would be remiss and an out right idiot if I did not mention Marissa Paredes as Huma Rojo. Paredes is not a classic beauty but has the legendary quality and glamour that made Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, and Joan Crawford stars. When on the screen she steals the show. Fans of Almodovar will be elated by his latest offering. I recommend the film if only for the scenery of Barcelona. Offering the best mix of Drama and Comedy, Almodovar has out done himself once again. It is easy to see why the film received Best film at The Cannes Film Festival as well as The Academy Award's Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Also by Almodovar I recommend High Heels (also with Marissa Paredes) and Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown."
An Outstanding Tribute
John L Wilson | Long Beach, CA USA | 02/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The beauty of Almodovar's latest work is the loving portrayal of women and perhaps the sacrifices women make for being mothers. Although less zany than his earlier works, Almodovar still manages to include goofy bits of humor that endear you to this fine work. Almodovar is getting a lot of attention from Hollywood for this work...Don't be surprised to finally see an English-speaking movie from this brilliant director."
A Visually Beautiful & Emotionally Charging Film
Dan Motsinger | 02/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""All About My Mother" is simply divine. The story of a woman going in search of her ex-husband, also father of her son and meeting a group of neurotic women on the way only to act as a mother figure to all of them--is stunning.Cecilia Roth's performance as the lead, Manuela, is driven, passionate, and raw. Penelope Cruz's troubled nun Rosa is young, sweet, and hopeful, even in the midst of complete despair. As Huma Rojo, Marisa Paredes gives a first-class performance as a Dramatic Diva whose love for her ruthless costar Nina (who is "hooked on junk") motivates all of her dying emotions. And Antonia San Juan offers both comic relief and some self-esteem lessons to us all as the lovable transvestite La Agrado. And Manuela's doomed son, Esteban (the performer's name escpaes me) gives a gut wrenching, beautiful portrayal of the dreamer inside of all us.As for Almodovar's work--how visually stunning the cinematography is--obviously orchestrated to pull out every ounce of color, the dominant red and blue hues in the film set a tone of sadness, fury, passion, and distress. By the end of this film, there is so much to be said in terms of its themes and references to such classic films/theatrical shows such as "All About Eve," an obvious sketch for the theatrical life in the show, and "A Streetcar Named Desire" is an outlet in many ways for all of the characters--but there are so many routes to take in analyzing this film...it is full of love, hate, loss, motherhood, and friendship. Definitely recommended to all of you out there who have feelings."