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All About My Mother

Director/Writer:Pedro Almodovar
Sony Pictures Classics; NR; 101 minutes
Release:11/99
Cast:Cecilia Roth, Antonia San Juan, Penelope Cruz

All About My Mother is a superb film from Spain's Pedro Almodovar. It unites a sober look at women in contemporary society with good, campy fun. In All About My Mother, women are either born or made; as the delightful transsexual Agrado (Antonia San Juan) announces, "authenticity is when you most resemble the person you dreamed you'd be." One is reminded of American conservatism when Almodovar presents polymorphous modern sexuality as assimilated fact (rather than cheeky pigeonholing or shock tactic). This enables the HIV-positive pregnant nun (Penelope Cruz), the transsexual hooker, and the lesbian actress/addict to be multidimensional characters far removed from any stereotypical template.

The film follows Manuel (Celia Roth), a mother who heads to her past in Barcelona when tragedy falls in Madrid. Life, death, identity, and the acceptance of each are loose themes around which the story develops. Almodovar has a realistic yet styled ease that develops each character with impressive attention to detail. With rare balance his films offer stunning humanity and gravity while remaining playful, warm, and life-affirming.


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