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Todo sobre mi madre
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Reviews & Ratings for
All About My Mother More at IMDbPro »Todo sobre mi madre (original title)

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Very Rich

Author: jzappa from Cincinnati, OH, United States
16 July 2007

All About My Mother is a touching film, and I think it's because it's a film of dedication. As the credits begin, they read that the movie is dedicated to a long list of different sorts of actresses and women similar to the characters in the film, but I think that at its core, it sympathizes with a handful of general people that go unrecognized a lot of the time.

One of these groups of people is frankly mothers. The main character of Manuela is a mother who revisits her life before the birth of her son, who has just died at age 17. Most people would revisit this life after the death of a loved one because nostalgia would perhaps soothe their aching emotions, but she instead sacrifices that possibility by searching for her son's father and projecting aspects of motherhood upon the lives of many whom she meets. I love her character because of the natural way she strikes the viewer, thanks to Almodovar's writing and Cecilia Roth's performance, as an emotional but optimistic, freedom-loving, honest and philosophical woman, despite her past and her friends. I believe Almodovar also means to recognize anyone who keeps large portions of themselves hidden, which Manuela does.

Really, the film is just entertaining and fulfilling because despite its penchant for tranvestitism and unusual plot strands, it truly is a slice of life, not only because of its realistic sideline happenstances of sexual diseases, but mostly because its characters do what characters are meant to do for us when we go to the movies, which is that they provide us with good company. We enjoy these people, and we care about them greatly. They're realistic and well-played.

Almodovar's cinematography is a great highlight, as every background is rich and the colors are bold and thick. It's a good companion piece to the script, both being emotionally stimulating.

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Spanish dramas of Pedro Almodovar at his best

Author: karl_consiglio from Malta
22 May 2007

Definitely one of my favorite Almodovar films along with the extraordinary "What did I do to deserve this". Shattered over the death of her teenage son, Manuela drives to find the boy's father, a transsexual named Lola. While brooding the cities less reputable areas, she encounters Agrado, a sassy transvestite prostitute, and Rosa the pregnant nun played by Penelope Cruz on her way to El Salvador. She also becomes the manager for Huma, the actress her son idolized, and helps her through a run of A Streetcar named Desire. Together these great ladies bond through various heartrending crises, enduring the pain and celebrating the beauty of being women, or well, almost.

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Wonderful Almodovar film

Author: blanche-2 from United States
26 August 2006

"All About My Mother" is a magnificent film by Pedro Almodovar about a woman, Manuela (Cecilia Roth) who, after her son's death, goes looking for his father and finds not only her past but her future. Almodovar brilliantly intertwines the story of "All About Eve" (shown on Spanish television in one of the scenes) with this story. (Due to a clause in her "Eve" contract, Celeste Holm was able to sue the producers of this movie and win an undisclosed settlement.)

The acting is fantastic, and certainly when dealing with Almodovar, no one can say there aren't great roles for older women. Besides a fine performance from Penelope Cruz as a pregnant, HIV-infected nun and a beautiful one from Roth, Marisa Paredes is transcendent as an older actress playing Blanche in "Streetcar" who is in love with a junkie, Nina (Candela Pena). She combines glamor with desperation and humor. Antonia San Juan as Agrado, a transsexual, has the showy comic role, and she is fabulous. The monologue where she tells an audience waiting to see Streetcar the story of her life is a highlight of the movie. Toni Conto as Lola, the transsexual who is the father of Manuela's late son, gives a poignant performance.

There is warmth, humor, tragedy, and sadness in "All About My Mother," which presents fully fleshed out characters and tells us that whoever we are - nun, junkie, transsexual, nurse, actress or whore, we're all the same in our hurt, our love, and our desires, and that we can all help one another. A great story written by Almodovar and well executed by him.

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Food for thought

Author: Damaris Kiat ( from Malaysia
9 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

All About My Mother is one movie that I would not watch if I was given a choice(had to watch it for an assignment). Personally, I felt that this movie lack character development as all of the characters, save Agrado. The way they are developed makes it hard for me to relate to them. They somewhat appear aloof, save Agrado, who brings this dull plot to life. At the end of the movie, I am somewhat disappointed as the movie fail to make an impact on issues such as sexuality and religion are brought fourth. Almodóvar basically touches the surface of the iceberg and I felt that this was a pity as he could have explored these issues deeper. The storyline too, bored me as I felt the movie somewhat senseless with no purpose. I fail to comprehend the message that Almodóvar is trying to convey.

However, to be fair, I felt the use of colors in this movie, artistically and brilliantly done. The vibrant hews of red and yellow to me represents the emotions of Manuela. We see passion, love and anger in the color red, which represent Manuela's emotions for Lola, her son, her hurt and her anger. Where else, the color yellow represents the other side of her (her caring and motherly nature) and this can be seen when she forge a warm relationship with Rosa, who is carrying her husband's child. In the beginning we see lots of greens and blues that I think portrays Manuela's security and calmness, which she finds in her son. At the beginning she is reluctant to mention to Estaban of his father but when he dies she goes on a hunt for Lola. When this happens, her sense of security, which is represented by blue and green, diminishes. Her emotions change and we see this by frames mainly dominated by the color red and yellow.

One interesting factor to note is that we see glimpses of the play "A Streetcar Named Desire" throughout the movie. I feel that this play is crucially connected to the movie, as it is central to the film. It not only begins the film but it also brings together the characters of this story. The reason that Manuela goes in search for Lola is because of the death of her son, which is linked to this play. Almodóvar does a brilliant job in showing us Estaban's point of view, as an oncoming car knocks him down. The way the camera pans and moves gives me a sense of realism as Estaban is wretchedly mowed down. This is one scene of the movie that I really loved as the camera work was rather unique. Also, Almodóvar has a rather twisted sense of humor, and this can be seen when he shows Estaban nearly getting knocked down while crossing the street to meet his mother for the show "A Streetcar Named Desire". What is ironic is that he does get knocked down – but after the show, while chasing for Huma's autograph. I find all of this rather senseless and it leads me to feel that life is so short and precious – treasure the moments you have, as it may be your last. In this, I feel that the director does a good job in portraying life and how it can just change within a split second.

Overall, All About My Mother is a film that I felt could have made more of a statement. It is my view that many issues in the movie was left hanging and although maybe the director did this to let the viewers decide on them, the impact would have been more if he made some kind of statement. I just wish the plot was more realistic as I felt it was a tad unbelievable. Overall, it is not a movie I would recommend to anyone unless they are fans of Almodóvar.

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Review for Todo sobre mi madre

Author: Sarah from United States
13 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like the title says, Pedro Almodovar's movie, Todo sobre mi madre, talks about mothers, but not only the ones you would think of at first. In reality he talks about many kinds of mothers and the roles and relationships that they have with their children, biological or not. The movie, that is presented very well, shows all of the women in their anxiety, sadness and laughter. This would be a good movie to watch with girl friends.

The movie is based around Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a single mother that lives in Madrid with her son, Esteban (Eloy Azorín). For her son's birthday, the two attend A Streetcar Named Desire. After the play Esteban wants the autograph of lead actress, Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes). He runs after her to try to obtain it and is hit by a car. Esteban is killed, and ironically Manuela, a coordinator of transplants, has to decide if she wants to donate Esteban's organs. Then she travels to Barcelona to look for the father that her son never knew and tell him what has happened. Manuela discovers an old friend, La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a transvestite prostitute that is trying to change her life, and she also finds new friends in Huma, who she begins to work for, and Rosa (Penelope Cruz), a pregnant nun that works with prostitutes and was also the last person to see her ex-husband. The movie follows the women through the difficult pregnancy of Rosa, the rough relationship of Huma and her lover, Nina, and Manuela's search for Lola, her transvestite ex-husband.

The relationships between all of the women unite the movie. With the exception of Esteban, who dies very early, the movie doesn't have a main male character. Some, like La Agrado, were men, and have the physical parts of a man, but they are actually women. Rosa's father, I believe, is the stereotype of men in the movie, lost with his dog and confused about the lives of the women. The movie shows the roles that women play in the lives of everyone. It is obvious that the independence of the women from men is a principle theme, but more important is the fact that they are all the mothers of each other. Manuela is a mother to Esteban, Rosa, and then Rosa's child, but she cares for everyone, including La Agrado when she is hurt. Huma is a mother to Nina although she is her lover. Everyone cares for each other and they make a 'family.' The movie shows all of the different roles that women have to play in their lives, from actress to mother to nurse.

I like the cinematography of the movie. Almodovar uses many colors for the costumes, in the scenes, in all aspects of the movie. They helped to establish and develop the personalities. For example, La Agrado is a very unique person and this is shown in her clothes. Also I like that there are many mosaics, like the ones that are all over Barcelona from Antoni Gaudi. An aspect that I do not like a lot is the music. Much of it reminded me of a murder or mystery movie. I didn't think it fit into the movie well. It fit in some scenes, but other scenes I felt it did not. Also there are some interesting camera angles. I like when Lola looks at the photo of Esteban, and they only show his eyes. My favorite was when Esteban was writing in his notebook, and he wrote on the camera. I thought that it was a very inventive camera angle.

In general I liked Todo sobre mi madre. I liked the cinematography more, but the plot was good also. The relationships between the characters were very interesting and all of the actors in the movie played their roles very well. Personally the movie is a little predictable. It was easy to predict the deaths of Rosa and Esteban and also the father of Rosa's baby. Although that was the case, the movie is very fun, and I have already recommended it to my friends.

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One of the better Almodóvar films

Author: rbverhoef ( from The Hague, Netherlands
19 February 2005

'Todo Sobre Mi Madre' is another fine film from Spanish director Pédro Almodóvar. It is a more serious films, less soap opera, than other fine films like 'Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios' and 'Tacone Lejanos'. It seems Almodóvar is growing up and it fits him. We still have the bright colors and there still is one (or two) transsexual character, but both are used in a more serious way.

Here he tells the story of Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a woman who who loses her son while he is purchasing famous Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes) to get an autograph. He is hit by a car. Now Manuela wants to find her son's father, transvestite Lola (Toni Cantó), to tell him the bad news. She meets her old friend Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a nun named Rosa (Penélope Cruz) who also knows Lola, and due circumstances she becomes Huma's assistant. As with every Almodóvar film it is hard to explain the plot without revealing too much. His films always inhabit a lot of characters important for the story in one way or another.

Although the story on itself is a very good one, there are little things I enjoyed very much. The way he shows us certain things and let them return later in the film. We get to see parts of 'All About Eve' for example, and later the main plot line of that film is mixed into this story. Another example shows Manuela as an actress in an instruction video where people have to decide whether they agree with a heart transplant of their dead relative, which ironically returns when she has to make that kind of choice for her own son.

Of course there is the usual amount of comedy, especially when transsexual Agrado is in the picture. The cinematography is good, especially in combination with the colors we always see in an Almodóvar film. Very memorable is the important music. Alberto Iglesias has composed a beautiful score, even used in commercials these days, that fits the film perfectly. Although I like every film of Almodóvar since they are so different from other films, I do think this is one of his best. It is probably better accessible than most of his earlier films with a more familiar story. Fortunately the Almodóvar touch is felt all the way through the film.

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A bit weird from time to time, but also very touching.

Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
31 January 2005

If there is one thing you could accuse Pedro Almodóvar of then it must be the fact that he never makes simple or normal movies and that he certainly likes controversy. Every movie is a challenge and every time you'll find yourself being fascinated by the (sometimes weird) characters and the gripping story.

With this movie he has done exactly that, he has made a very touching but sometimes weird movie. It's about a single mother, Manuela, who lives with her only son in Madrid. He dies on his 17th birthday as he runs to seek an actress's autograph and gets hit by a car. The father, a transvestite who works as a prostitute in Barcelona, didn't even know he had a son, let alone that he knows the kid died. The mother decides that she'll pay him a visit and tell him all about his son. Looking for him (her), she meets Rosa, a young nun who is about to leave for El Salvador. A beautiful friendship between the two women starts and as the story goes on, they will help each other through some very hard times (Rosa appears to be pregnant and HIV-positive). In the meantime Manuela has also started working as the personal assistant of the same actress her son wanted an autograph from...

What makes this movie so special is the fact that even though the story is very special and certainly not the easiest to follow, it all works very well. You'll get an enormous mix of emotions and you'll see plenty of characters who in one way or another have something to do with each other, but it will all fit right into its place. At the end of the movie you will not be asking yourself questions, at least not when you have been able to pay enough attention all the time. OK, it may look weird from time to time (you certainly wouldn't find these characters in a Hollywood production), but in the end it all seems 'normal'.

Pedro Almodóvar doesn't have to prove his talents for story telling and directing anymore, I'm already convinced that he knows all about it, but this movie wouldn't have worked if he hadn't chosen the right actors. And I can only say that all the actors did a very good job. I guess that almost everybody will be able to appreciate this movie, although I guess more conservative and very religious people might be offended by it. Personally I'm none of both, so I can say that I truly liked it. I give it at least an 8/10, perhaps even an 8.5/10

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One of those rare, great movies

Author: ian_harris from London, England
16 September 2002

All About My Mother is a rare treat - a truly great movie. The more recent works of Almodovar are clearly to my taste, I rated Talk To Me very highly also. Of course, there is melodrama, but of the highest class. Reminiscent of the works of Tennessee Williams whose great piece Streetcar Named Desire features so prominently and echos so poignantly in the film.

Great acting, great directing, stunning cinematography. As close to a "must see" as I can muster.

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Age sure did tune him down

Author: cara weiner (
30 July 2002

I'm a fan of all of Almodovar's films yet I would not rank this one as his best. This is certainly a later film, which one can tell by the almost passified nature of this film compared to his earlier ones. The film is so toned down that it does reach a broader and more international audience and is a very well crafted film but I tend to like his more surreal films. Of course I would recommend the film nonetheless.

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Unsettling and brilliant

Author: Dennis Littrell from United States
8 May 2002

This is my first experience with a film directed by the acclaimed Spanish film maker, Pedro Almodóvar. It is very complex on both a technical and emotional level.

It is first and foremost a kind of absurdist parody of contemporary life with Almodóvar simultaneously questioning bourgeois values and celebrating the community of those with alternative life styles. He makes the burghers in the audience feel uneasy in their assumptions, especially about questions of gender and about the lifestyle of cross-dressers and gender-unspecific/variable people, who, he wants us to know, live and breath and love and hate just like anybody else.

Cecile Roth stars as Manuela, who is a nurse at a hospital in Madrid where she helps to coordinate the organ donor programs. She is also an amateur actress who plays in the simulations that the hospital makes to educate staff and patients. Her 17-year-old son with whom she is very close tells her she is a great actress, but Manuela is modest. She is also secretive about his father's identity. After seeing a production of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, the son and the mother await outside the stage door so that he can get an autograph from the actress who plays Blanche Dubois, Marisa Paredes, who is named Huma Rojo in the film. Tragedy ensues as the son is hit and fatally injured. In just one of a number of plot mixings that emphasize the sometimes tragic and often ironic nature of the human experience, the son becomes an organ donor before he dies, and Manuela, who had previously arranged for organ donations, now has to sign the papers to donate the organs of her beloved son.

Now she goes to Barcelona to look up the father, who had once played the crude and boorish Stanley Kowalski to her Stella, again from A Streetcar Named Desire. In Barcelona Manuela again sees the play, but this time meets the star, Huma, who is a grande old dame of the Spanish theater, a Lesbian genius who has taken her theatrical cue in life from Bette Davis (and her smoking habits as well). In a salute to Davis and a remembrance of one of her greatest roles, we see posters of Bette Davis from the classic Hollywood film, All About Eve (1950), and then a kind of take off on the action as Manuela becomes in a sense Eve Harrington as she befriends Huma and begins working for her. (Waiting outside the stage door for a autograph is also a scene from All About Eve.) Nina (Candela Peña) Huma's heroin-addicted lover becomes jealous and accuses Manuela of seeking Huma's friendship just so she can become a star herself, a la Eve Harrington. To top it off Manuela is called upon to play Stella when Nina cannot because of an overdose, and miraculously she relives her role from twenty years before, and does a great job, because she is, as her son knew, a gifted actress.

Okay, we can see the complexities. I have merely given the premise of the film. Enter now Antonia San Juan as Agrado, an old friend of Manuela's who is a professional transvestite. (San Juan is brilliant in the part as a woman playing a man playing a woman.) Enter also Penélope Cruz as a pregnant nun with AIDs. What evolves is a kind of sisterhood among variously gendered females. There is also a sense of a middle class, soap opera-ish even, action and resolution, but with Almodóvar's tongue firmly in cheek.

Men, however, do not come off very well in this film. The grandfather-to-be apparently has Alzheimer's and does not even recognize his daughter. Manuela's son is dead. A theater male is depicted as a kind of stagehand Stanley Kowalski, boorishly insensitive, seeking only his own pleasure; indeed Tennessee Williams's crude, animalistic Kowalski appears as a metaphor for men in this film. Manuela is his long-suffering Stella, and Huma has always, as she actually says, depended on the kindness of strangers. Finally, there is "Lola" a tall, handsome, gender-modified Kowalski, played inadequately by Toni Cantó, in what may be a bit of purposely bad casting for effect by Almodóvar--or perhaps I should say, played shallowly and unconvincingly on purpose by Toni Cantó. It's hard to tell. Indeed part of Almodóvar's technique is a blurring of distinctions with ironic parallels, showing how some things are the same, but different depending on your point of view, the organ donors, Lola's fatherhood, Manuela as Stella and/or Eve, etc.

Bottom line this is an unsettling film, brilliantly acted by Paredes, Roth and San Juan, and cleverly directed in a most original style by Almodóvar. It will not play well with Disney aficionados or with devotees of action cinema--and put the kiddies to bed, please.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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