Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his second mother, a trans woman, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his second mother, a trans woman, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his second mother, a trans woman, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela.
Having been a big fan of Volver I decided to check out another Pedro Almodovar classic and was not to be disappointed as I was brought into another strong family drama that adds the deftest of comedy touches that never overshadow the dark and dramatic lives of the characters.
Cecilia Roth stars as central protagonist Manuela who looks for some escapism after seeing one too many troubles at home and when disaster strikes she flees to Barcelona where she hopes to discover where her son's father and her former lover is. Lola, a transvestite is not aware of Esteban which as the film progresses delivers numerous dramatic consequences and tear threatening montages.
As writer and director Almodovar seems to be able to cement the right dramatic input at the right time, delivering a supposed expectancy only to strive to shock the audience with a powerful emotional twist or an unthinkable idea. To say what the unthinkable idea is in this 1999 release would be to spoil a well worked powerfully controlled heartbreaker, which would cost the true value of a picture purposefully identified with its drama.
We have underage pregnancies, traumatic and unexpected death, family rivalry, former lovers, drug abuse and fiery working relationships that juxtaposed, all cement this in the drama genre and given the context they are used in add to a great sense of realism. The way everything threads together is nicely worked with only a few hitches.
Roth's character a former actress is conveniently placed in a theatre to see what will follow to recapture the past, the absence of the father for such a long time distances some emotional connection for the audience and no matter how hard the plot works to convey its powerful message it never feels as compassionate and as emotionally connected as Volver.
This film does boast some tremendous performances. A young Penelope Cruz would go on and generate her international stardom with this performance as the young worker who is pregnant. Cecilia Roth carries the picture with her constant driven attitude to not look back and thrives on living in the moment. The supporting cast all lend a strong array of drama and some good comedy from Antonio San Juan as Agrado, especially her scene on stage.
The cinematography and usage of various places keeps the feisty drama alive. The dreadful scene with the prostitutes, the stage for the replica of A Streetcar named desire and the terrible incident in Madrid all combine to make this a wonderful drama.
Strong well performed and written drama 8.5/10
- Feb 4, 2010