ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER was a big hit for writer-director Pedro Almodóvar in 1999 (as of 2020 only his wonderful Volver in 2006 did more in box-office returns), winning laurels right & left, including the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Fans who swear by the ever-challenging Pedro swoon over this pretzel-logic drama. From our corner of the blogoverse, we dare to strike a balance, having loved Volver and Broken Embraces, but being turned off by The Skin I Live In and Talk To Her: we regrettably come down on the ixnay end for this one.
“You are not a human being, Lola. You are an epidemic.”
‘Manuela’ (the immediately warm Cecilia Roth), loses her teenage son in a tragic accident. Grieving, she decides to track down the lad’s transgender father, and notify her/him about the death of the son he/she never knew. Along the way, she encounters an old friend, upbeat transgender hooker ‘Agrado’ (Antonia San Juan), and meets up with a lesbian actress (Marisa Paredes), having troubles with her druggie lover (Candela Peña). Add a pregnant nun (Penélope Cruz). Complications reach to the anything-goes Barcelona sky.
Because he’s a great director, the acting is high-quality and the film’s look is a riot of color. Since as a writer he can be scattershot, veering between keenly observant and off-puttingly indulgent, it’s up to the good work of the cast and crew to save the kitchen-sink (with dirty dishes) screenplay. The performers give their all, but the initially arresting material gets progressively harder to buy as anything more than muse in search of meaning. Overwhelming critical opinion says otherwise, so if you’re a stalwart of the director, you’ll likely side with the worshipful crowd. For the uninitiated, we venture there are better Pedro feasts to munch on.
The rollout of $4,989,091 was summarily dealt with by a worldwide gross of that reached $67,872,296. With Rosa Maria Sarda, Eloy Azarin, Toni Cantó. Both the production design and art direction were the handiwork of Antóxn Gomez. Camera was under the eye of Affonso Beato. 104 minutes.