All About My Mother – Review (Spoiler Free)

All About My Mother All About My Mother is a film that’s chock full of fantastic performances from a cast that includes Cecilia Roth, Penélope Cruz, Antonia San Juan, and Marisa Paredes. Writer and Director Pedro Almodóvar weaves a story that’s not afraid to tackle difficult subject matters such as AIDS,  transgenderism, and death, and he does so confidently and effectively. The film reminds me (to an extent) of some of Angela Carter’s work in how it investigates gender, sexuality, and our performance of these, the way that it’s often highly dramatic whilst maintaining the ability to switch to the bawdy when it wishes too.

It follows a rather unusual friendship group, and as with a lot of Almodóvar’s other works it uses these characters to investigate and celebrate different types of femininity. As Roth’s character Manuela returns to Barcelona and looks for work she intermingles with many different figures ranging from a nun (Cruz), to a prostitute, to a transvestite. Each of these characters, and others, are fully developed and powerfully ‘real’, due in part to the wonderful performances throughout the film, but also because of the excellent writing and directing of Almodóvar. Every detail appears precisely calculated and managed, with the end result feeling both simultaneously sharp and effortless. It’s a joy to watch the film work so well, where everybody and every detail comes together excellently.

I’m keeping plot details very light because one of the joys of this film for me was not knowing where it was going to go. I really couldn’t be sure of what direction I was going to be taken in, and even though there are a number of familiar scenarios played out here, the movie is good enough to be able to wrap us up into the events and make us forget that we’ve seen similar ones before. It’s not an easy ride, and has a fairly hefty emotional weight behind it, but the film isn’t out just to make you cry but to also laugh as well. To laugh and take joy in womanhood, in motherhood, and in life more generally.

This one comes highly recommend by me. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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31 comments

  1. I have somehow never seen a Pedro Almodóvar film before, so I’ll try to watch this. Nice review.

    1. Thanks 🙂 Well there’s quite a number that I would recommend, but this wouldn’t be a bad place to start!

  2. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any of Almodóvar’s movies. They always sound interesting though, at least from what I’ve read. Do you have a favorite movie of his filmography?

    1. Well I’m not that knowledgeable about his films, but from what I’ve seen this and Volver rate pretty highly!

  3. Nice review. Really liked this movie, especially Agrado! She’s so funny. HUGE Almodóvar fan here. Really looking forward to his new film.

    1. Thanks buddy! She certainly was!
      I’m a relative newbie to his work but I’m already a fan. It will be interesting to see his next one 😀

      1. It’s called Los Amantes Pasajeros and it’s his first comedy since Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios. Here’s a teaser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2pTVh_ksZI

        1. Cool, well I’ll certainly be checking it out!
          What’s your favourite of his films?

          1. Volver! Not only my favorite of his movies, but tied with Kill Bill for my favorite movie.

        2. Ah OK! I really enjoyed Volver – a lot. I’m planning on seeing several more of his films soon, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to really get around to his work.
          I saw ‘The Skin I Live In’ a couple of years ago, I don’t remember being all that impressed with it – perhaps it’s time for a re-watch!

          1. He’s definitely got a fantastic filmography, one you can really sink your teeth into. Hope you check out more of his work! And definitely a rewatch for The Skin I Live In. Loved that one!

        3. Right I’ll get onto The Skin I Live In then – I’m pretty confident that I’ll have a higher opinion of it a second time around.

  4. Great review, I need to see this ASAP.

    1. Thank you, I certainly recommend it!

  5. It’s been so long since I seen this but I remember absolutely loving it. As I always do with Almodovar. Nice write-up buddy.

    1. Thanks Mark, I’m still catching up with Almodovar but what I’ve seen is fantastic!

  6. Natalie P · · Reply

    Interesting review. The film sounds very postmodern 🙂

    1. Thanks Natalie – it certainly is!

  7. Nice write-up 🙂 I’ll search this one out and give it a viewing I think!

    1. Thanks 😀
      I hope you like it, if you do I would also recommend Volver. They’re both great!

  8. Wordschat · · Reply

    An excellent movie for sure and the DVD is chick full of informative features. Nice review.

    1. Thanks!
      My DVD is unfortunately rather short of features, hopefully I may be able to find some online.
      Do you have a favourite of Almodovar’s films?

  9. Wordschat · · Reply

    Up until The Skin I Live In; All about my mother was my fav. The Skin was such a moving tense story and a visual tapestry that was incredible to experience.

    1. I need to see The Skin again, the first time I saw it I thought it was interesting but nothing too special. I strongly imagine that I’ll have a different view on it when I give it a re-watch!

  10. This is one of my favorites from Almodovar alongside “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (hilarious!) and “Bad Education.” No one pulls off primary colors better than Almodovar and he makes this film beautiful not only to look at but also experience on an emotional level. You’re making me want to watch it again.

    1. I agree his films are often stunning to look at. I still haven’t seen ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ – I take it I should then 😀
      Out of the ones that I’ve seen I like ‘Volver’ the most, but I’m still pretty inexperienced with his filmography. What others would you recommend?

  11. First off this is a very well written piece! Thank you for bringing this film to my attention, I surprisingly have not come across it before and I might check it out now!

    1. Thank you very much!
      I would recommend this highly, but I would perhaps suggest Volver even more so. Both are fantastic films! I hope you do check them out 🙂

      1. Thanks, I will! 🙂

  12. I need to check this one out! I loved Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, his only film of his I’ve seen so far. Your glowing review makes me motivated, even more so since you didn’t talk about the plot. Films whose plot should never be discussed are usually really good.

    1. You definitely should see this one! Also, as I keep mentioning in this comments section, check out Volver as well. I think I may even prefer that over All About My Mother.

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