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Posted by Jan ( on September 23, 2003 at 09:12:37:

In Reply to: All About My Mother (1999 best european film) posted by Jan den Breejen ( on September 23, 2003 at 09:02:42:

Editorial Reviews
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 introduces 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

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

The Struggle Between Heartbreak and Hope, January 18, 2003
Reviewer: Steven Y. (see more about me) from Aiea, Hawaii USA
Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother contains more pure emotion than anything Hollywood puts out these days. The film follows the turbulent life of Manuela (Cecilia Roth) who tragically loses her teenage son Esteban (Eloy Azorin) after they both attend a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire. Esteban is killed when he is hit by a car while chasing after actress Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes) in the hope of getting her autograph. The loss devestates Manuela. When she recovers from her grief, she sets out to Barcelona to find Esteban's father to tell him of his son's death. Along the way, Manuela comes across old and new friends who help her heal further while also causing her more grief. Almodovar expertly balances the heartbreak and the humor to such a degree that the viewer is never sure whether a tear or a laugh is around the corner. And while the characters in the film are unconventional - transvestite hookers, a pregnant nun, lesbians - the irony is their interactions say as much about family values as any conventional family film out there. All the performances from Roth's grieving mother to Penelope Cruz's ill-fated nun are honest and true. This film is a roller-coaster ride of emotion but in the end you'll be glad that you took the ride.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

In praise of women., March 1, 2001
Reviewer: Ken Groom (see more about me) from Manchester, Lancashire United Kingdom
Another fascinating film from Almodovar, with kinky characters, bright colours and superb performances. This one is about Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a single mother, and how she strives to come to terms with the death of her beloved eighteen year old son who, before her very eyes, is run over and killed instantly by a passing car. Her screech of horror is blood curdling.

They have just been to see a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire." to celebrate her son's birthday and are waiting outside the theatre in the pouring rain to get the autograph of Huma Roja (Marisa Paredes), the star of the play. But she comes out of the theatre too quickly, getting into the taxi, with her drug-addicted lover Nina (Candela Pina), and driving off before he can reach her. It is when he is chasing after her taxi in desperation that the tragic accident happens.

When Manuela is able to pull herself together, she decides to go back to Barcelona to give news of the death to her son's father who knows nothing of his son's existence. She left him all those years ago because he was HIV-positive, a transsexual and a prostitute. Twenty years later she finds him near to death with an Aids related illness, having sometime before passed on the virus to sister Rosa (Penelope Cruz), a beautiful nun social-worker who shortly afterwards dies giving birth to his son (A beautiful nun going to bed with a transsexual prostitute? I suppose anything's possible. But what does it say about him?). Manuela has only known Rosa for a short time but shows what a stunningly good person she is by spending every moment taking care of her in her last illness; and afterwards adopting her son and taking him back with her to Madrid. On the way to the hospital Rosa asks for the taxi to stop while she takes one last look at Barcelona's beautiful main square. A moving moment.

Manuela was introduced to Rosa by Agrado (Antonia San Juan) an old friend who is also a transsexual and a prostitute and who when we first see her is about to be raped. Manuela leaps to her rescue, whacking her assailant over the head with a heavy piece of wood. Agrado then takes her in search of her son's father to a prostitute's work station, where, in the middle of a great field, a drove of cars drives around in circles

Almodovar always peoples his films with an array of oddball outsiders - usually women, or men wanting to be women - viewing them habitually through benevolent eyes. He obviously loves women. He thinks they are much better than men, that they make better friends, that they are better able to confide in each other, to share their feelings and emotions and talk about things that really matter. And this film is a paean to that belief. The warmth and friendship these women show to each other is something to behold. And so a film containing three tragic deaths and which should by every expectation be sombre and depressing, is turned into a heart-warming, uplifting ode to the strength of the human spirit. It contains at least one memorable quote. Huma Roja says at one point, " I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition

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