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All About My Mother

August 24, 2010

All About My Mother (1999)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Actors: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Penelope Cruz

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Synopsis: Manuela (Cecilia Roth) embarks on an odyssey to the Barcelona of her youth, as she seeks to discover what happened to the father of her son.

Review: On paper, All About My Mother is deeply sensational and implausible, but in Almodóvar’s hands it has become a sort of miracle – an uplifting parable on the sustenance of the human spirit. Arguably Almodóvar’s greatest achievement is to maintain the emotional integrity of the storyline through the potentially hysterical contrivances of the plot and its motley array of troubled characters. Almodóvar does this by shifting the narrative momentum on at such a pace, that the themes of continuity and survival are conveyed almost subliminally. Take for example a scene showing the final stages of Sister Rosa’s pregnancy before (spoiler alert) Almodóvar cuts straight to a funeral gathering that is gradually revealed to be Rosa’s own. Under a less masterly rein, this sleight of hand could diminsh the profundity of such a tragic event but Almodóvar’s brusque sequencing seems to add to the shattering and heartbreaking sense of her demise, and propels the narrative on to its inevitable conclusion – the arrival of the ‘father figure’ who has plagued the histories of so many of the film’s female protagonists. (December 2005)

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