All About My Mother, which opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 19, is the story of Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a thirty-something mother--and organ-transplant counselor--in Madrid whose life comes to a screeching halt when her beloved teenage son, an aspiring writer desperate to know his deadbeat dad's identity, is killed in an automobile accident as she looks on. Numbed by grief, Manuela sets out for Barcelona to find her son's father, a transvestite now dying of AIDS, to inform him of the death of the child he never knew he had. Through a series of preposterous plot twists that are Almodovar's signature, fate transpires to keep Manuela a mother, even when she least wants to be. In her quest to reconnect with her son's father, she takes a trio of colorful misfits under her wing: a long-lost friend, the transvestite prostitute La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), whose gender disagreement extends even to her name; Sister Rosa, a fallen young nun (Penelope Cruz); and Huma Rojo, a needy actress (Marisa Peredes) starring in a Spanish production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Barcelona itself takes a bow as supporting actress.
Ever since The Flower of My Secret (1995), Almodovar has been struggling to negotiate a detente between the dramatic and comic tensions that have long fought for dominance in his films. With All About My Mother, he has fashioned a melodrama worthy of Douglas Sirk, in which emotional sympathy for and generosity toward his characters closes the ironic distance previously ascendant in the Spaniard's work. For anyone interested in family values, Pedro Almodovar offers a broadened vision, where biology matters but nothing counts more than the comfort of strangers.
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|Article Type:||Movie Review|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1999|
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