Movie Project #15: All About My Mother [1999]

Due to the surprising success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a part two for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.

All About My Mother [1999]

All About My Mother [1999]
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Genre: Drama
Starring: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Antonia San Juan, Penélope Cruz and Candela Peña
Runtime: 101 minutes

It is fitting that I included All About My Mother in this movie project, especially after recently watching All About Eve. Pedro Almodóvar’s 1999 ode to women won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that year, and it is laced with references to the seminal 1950 classic. Not only is this a movie also dominated by women, but there is even a brief clip of a Spanish dubbed version of All About Eve near the beginning of the film. At one point, the main character is even called Eve Harrington by name as a sort of insult. What’s funny is that I didn’t plan this at all; I added All About My Mother simply because multiple sources told me this was a great entry point into Pedro Almodóvar’s canon. Mission accomplished: I am now eager to see more of his work.

Argentine actress Cecilia Roth stars as Manuela, a nurse overcome by grief after watching her 17-year-old son die in a tragic car accident. Still suffering, she quits her job in the organ transplant department and travels to Barcelona to find her son’s father and tell him the news. While there, she meets up with an old friend, transvestite prostitute Agrado (Antonia San Juan), becomes close to a pregnant nun (Penélope Cruz), and also begins working for famous actress Huma Rojo (Marisa Peredes).

All About My Mother [1999]

The lives of all four ladies become intertwined, but Manuela is very much the center of the film. Her maternal instincts are constantly being shown, as not only did she care for her son Esteban in the beginning, but she also spends much of the movie taking care of the nun Rosa during her pregnancy. Manuela is a powerful woman with a rough past, and this is displayed flawlessly by Cecilia Roth.

While a straight drama dealing with powerful topics, All About My Mother does have moments of much-welcomed comedy. These snippets of humor are mostly provided by Agrado, who acts as a warm source of comic relief. Agrado’s likable demeanor is especially present when a stage play goes awry, and the character is forced to improvise alone on stage. For a film that tackles such heavy topics as the death of a child, unplanned pregnancies and HIV, bits of laughter are very helpful to lighten the mood a bit.

All About My Mother [1999]

All About My Mother is an intriguing film, one that does not pull any punches. Perhaps most interesting is that everyone was portrayed in the same light — men, women, transgender, none of that mattered. We are all human, and I don’t know if I have seen a better movie to demonstrate this.

8/10

 

Also, I would like to take this time to write a quick “For Your Consideration” note. As many of you know, the LAMMY Awards are underway. If you are a member of the wonderful LAMB (Large Association of Movie Blogs) community, I would love if you considered this 50 Movies Project for the Best Running Feature category. The Warning Sign is also eligible for Best New LAMB, and it would be a blast to be nominated for either award (or anything else, for that matter). Thanks as always for reading, and for your helpful consideration!

12 thoughts on “Movie Project #15: All About My Mother [1999]

  1. ruth says:

    This is one of Pedro Almodóvar’s films I really want to check out. It might be a bit hard to watch as I might miss my late mother so much whilst watching it though.

    Btw, I’ll be sure to send some noms your way in LAMMYs Award, Eric! :D

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Ruth, and ditto. :)

      I could see how the movie would be a difficult watch. It definitely tackles some heavy subjects, but I was pleased to see some forms of comic relief to lighten things up on occasion. It’s a great movie whenever you feel up for it.

  2. Alex Withrow says:

    All About My Mother is a great place to get acquainted with Almodóvar. Glad you enjoyed it, and yeah, Almodóvar is not one to pull punches very often. He’s one of my favorite directors. Hope you have fun exploring him!

    Best of luck to you with the Lammy Awards!

    • Eric says:

      Thanks man. I was a little worried about where to start with Almodóvar because I heard some conflicting views, but I really dug this one. Can’t wait to see more.

  3. Scott Lawlor (@FrontRoomCinema) says:

    As you know Eric. I am in love with all of Almodóvar’s work. Alll About My Mother is a great film that is a perfect place to introduce yourself to the styling and aesthetics of the Auteur.

    I am so pleased you like it…. Bad Education next please. It is a corker!

  4. Chris says:

    1999 was an amazing year for film, Almodóvar is a bit hit or miss for me personally. I loved his latest The Skin I Live In, but disliked Bad Education.
    Maybe I will give All About My Mother a watch soon based on your recommendation, the oscar win is furthur motivation. Didn’t know about the link to All About Eve.Thanks for the review, Eric!

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