Presented by Linda DeLibero, director, Program in Film & Media Studies, Johns Hopkins University
Released in his 50th year, Almodóvar’s 13th film was widely lauded as a masterpiece that ushered in a new maturity and sensitivity to his work. Although it features his usual heady mix of gender-defying sexuality, melodrama, and theatricality, the film’s focus on women’s identity and the heartbreak of motherhood introduces a depth of feeling heretofore unknown in his previous films. The plot centers on a nurse, Maneula (Cecilia Roth), who, shattered by the sudden death of her teenage son, embarks on a journey into her past in Barcelona, where she finds succor and strength in the company of women, a quartet of Almodóvar’s typical misfits: a renowned aging actress (Marisa Paredes) and her drug-addled paramour (Candela Peña), a pregnant nun (Penelope Cruz), and a witty transgender sex worker (Antonia San Juan) who nearly steals the show. The furious plot twists and dazzling cinematic allusions promise campy fun, but All About My Mother—which won a host of international awards, including the Oscar for Best Foreign Film—is one of Almodóvar’s richest, most complex films, his heartfelt testament to the enduring resilience of women.
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