All About My Mother (1999)

Directed by
Reviewed by Simon on 2021-11-03

Manuela is a single mother raising her aspiring author son Estaban in Madrid. After Estaban dies in an accident a grief-stricken Manuela decides to return to Barcelona and look for his father, whom she ran away from when she became pregnant, to tell him about the son he never knew he had.

ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER is an extraordinary film, revealing a thematic depth that Almodóvar's earlier films only hinted at. It completed Almodóvar's transition from an outrageous anarchist provocateur to a more mature, arthouse-friendly provocateur. Still bold and transgressive, but with a new heft and purpose.

Almodóvar's keen visual style and colour palette are as rich as ever, and his tale of mothers in all their guises and glory is painted with an equally expansive emotional palette and empathic insight.

The performances from the cast are uniformly amazing, it's hard to single out any one member but Penélope Cruz is particularly stunning.

I think the frank treatment of transgender issues and its refreshingly honest look at grief made it the first Almodóvar film to really move me, and cemented Almodóvar's legacy as one of cinema's great auteurs.