Todo Sobre Mi Madre

Todo Sobre Mi Madre Pedro Almodóvar is undoubtedly one of the greatest living directors; yet his work is, by nature of its language, usually confined to the ‘Best Foreign Picture’ category at awards ceremonies. This serves only to diminish his work, for the genius of Almodóvar is such that it could compete with any English-speaking film for the title of ‘Best Picture’.

Todo Sobre Mi Madre (in English, All About my Mother) begins when Esteban, an aspiring writer, is killed in a freak accident on his birthday. This tragedy compels his mother, Manuela, to go in search of the absent father Esteban never knew, who we later discover to be a transvestite named Lola, who is dying of AIDS. On her journey to rediscover the past, Manuela encounters a fascinating cast of characters, including her old friend, the vivacious prostitute La Agrado; the actress Huma Roja; and Sister Rosa, played by Penélope Cruz, a nun with a surprising secret. A web of friendship forms between the four women, although further complications and twists are in store.

The film is told like a novel. It is visually stunning, striking, and bold in colour. The film does not shy away from its vivid subject matter, which encompasses death, drug addiction, transvestism, lesbian relationships, AIDS and prostitution. The unflinching and dignified treatment of these topics is what makes it truly remarkable, and it constantly seeks to challenge our perceptions.

One of the highlights of the film occurs when La Agrado takes to the stage and performs an entertaining monologue on her life. Her retelling of a life of cosmetic surgery and constant reinvention ends with the assertion that ‘una es más auténtica cuando más se parece a lo que ha soñado de si misma’ – one is more authentic the more you resemble what you’ve dreamed you are.

Todo Sobre Mi Madre is Almodóvar’s homage to women. Within, he presents us with a kaleidoscope which represents all that the female sex is; actresses, mothers, saints, sinners; and, as ever with Almodóvar, he does not forget to include the men who want to be women. Todo Sobre Mi Madre shows many different lives crossing paths and threading together on the screen. These unique characters all undergo their own personal tragedies and bittersweet triumphs, though at the film’s abrupt close, one thing is certain; Todo Sobre Mi Madre is simply a film that we do not wish to end.

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