Todo sobre mi madre

All about my mother (1999).
   Pedro Almodóvar's stylish woman's film was both a look back at certain themes of the mother-centered classical Hollywood melodrama and a tribute to a certain kind of strong womanhood, in particular to his own mother, who had just passed away at the time of shooting. For the writer-director, as he states in the film's dedication, women are performers, and thus the stage diva becomes the quintessential image of femininity. Women who perform in different ways (acting, lying, faking, changing gender, even mothering) are the protagonists of a multistrand narrative in which the characters' fates continue to reflect each other, producing a lively collage of women's experiences.
   Manuela (Cecilia Roth), single mother to 15-year-old Esteban (Eloy Azorín), works as a head nurse in a Madrid hospital. During a theater outing to see Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), an actress he idolizes, Esteban is run over as he tries to get her autograph. Manuela is shattered, and decides she must find again the man who was her husband and who never knew he had a son in order to bring the past full circle. The search takes her to Barcelona, where she lived with him in the carefree 1980s. There she reencounters her old friend Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a transsexual who works as a prostitute, and becomes a surrogate mother to Sister Rosa (Penélope Cruz), a young nun from a wealthy family who has just become pregnant. She also meets Huma, who is touring A Streetcar Named Desire, the play Manuela went to see with her son the night he died, and her lover, Nina (Candela Peña) who plays Stella. One night, when Nina is too sick to go on, Manuela replaces her as Stanley's wife, with great success. This raises suspicions. At the same time, it transpires that the man who got Sister Rosa pregnant was Esteban (Toni Cantó), Manuela's ex-husband (who has now become Lola and works as a prostitute) and that he was HIV positive. At first, Manuela is angry, but then she accepts becoming the child's adoptive mother. Sister Rosa dies and finally Manuela is able to confront Esteban / Lola at the funeral.
   The plot emphasized the idea of a network of women who are always there for one another, offering friendship, love, and mutual support. It was also a catalog of references to a number of famous women films, including John Casavettes' Opening Night (quoted in the scene of the accident), Elia Kazan's Streetcar Named Desire (Manuela identifies with Stella in the play) and, of course, Joseph Leo Mankiewicz's All About Eve (which Manuela and her son watch together on TV), to name the most obvious.
   During the 1990s, critics in Spain had shown a certain hostility toward Almodóvar, strangely parallel to his rise to international star-dom. All About My Mother changed this (all too briefly, as it turned out). It went on to become one of the great box-office hits of the year and won seven Goyas (out of 14 nominations), including for best film, best director, and best actress. Abroad, it won the best foreign film Academy Award, as well as the BAFTA for best film not in English, and Almodóvar won, among others, the BAFTA, the César, the David Di Donatello, and the Cannes Award as best director.
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

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