Starring Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Antonia San Juan, Penélope Cruz, Fernando Fernández Gómez

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Manuela (Roth), nurse and single mother, takes her son to a production of A Streetcar Named Desire for his 17th birthday. After the show, seeking an autograph from star actress, Huma Rojo (Paredes), her son gets his hit by a car, killing him, and leaving her reeling. She decides to search for the boy’s father who he never met, and along the way meets and becomes a surrogate mother to Agrado (San Juan), a witty transgender prostitute, Sister Rosa (Cruz), a kind nun with HIV and a surprise pregnancy, and finally Huma, theater diva and personal wreck. What stands out, even among Almodóvar’s bawdy humor, is an unflinching compassion for all of his characters. It’s a loving dedication to women and mothers, and Manuela becomes a hero figure just by being there for the supporting characters and doing the little things for them. Also on display is the director’s colorful, expressive style and flair for melodrama. This film kicked off what I believe is his best period, making his best film just three years later in Talk to Her. All About My Mother is a very good film conspicuously indebted to several classic films, but with a style that signifies its own director and makes it unique. Humanist. Melodramatic. Sensitive.

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