Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
All About My Mother is the breakthrough movie by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar who I suppose is now better known for Volver and The Skin I Live In. It’s bold, brash, confrontational, colourful and accomplished. There’s certainly a lot to chew on with All About My Mother.
All About My Mother is to an extent an ensemble piece, but it has a definitive main character in Manuela, played by Celia Roth, (Labyrinth of Passion), who at the beginning of the movie is a fairly accomplished woman, she is a single mother who is very secretive about the father of her child, and tragedy happens, and she is left to return to Barcelona from Madrid to find her father and the film enters a world that at first is dark and threatening but very quickly breaks through into something much more in love with the culture in which it sets itself.
The film is a word, colourful, and it must be said in a world where we have David Fincher, who; as much as I love him, and I do love him, a lot; loves to colour code his movies to within an inch of their life, it’s all very muted, it’s great to actually have a film full of colour and life and joi de vivre. Now it’s not that this film is irreverent of classical technique or is tasteless because it’s none of things, but it is really fun.
The film benefits from a collection of game cast members; Marisa Paredes, (Life Is Beautiful), Candela Peña, (Princesas), Penélope Cruz, (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), and Antonia San Juan all put in committed performances, of course though the star of the film is Pedro Almodovar. The camera moves are so bold and it puts one in mind of early Paul Thomas Anderson work like Boogie Nights and Punch-Drunk Love. He also stars as the screenwriter which is phenomenally clever-clever. It’s self consciously melodramatic in a way that makes you seem very detached and then turns on a dime into something very affecting. It has a motif of A Streetcar Named Desire and it very self consciously reworks that story into something very different. Normally when a film is so, sort of self consciously aware of its own cleverness that can sort of put you off but it’s carried off with such passion and verve, that it doesn’t seem to irritate me in the way one would expect, and I very much like its politics which helps.
In terms of improvements, its pacing is slack, for most of it it keep up a really taut, entertaining pace so that when that pace drops it’s really noticeable and its a tad too long, but that’s a really minor complaint. All in all, All About My Mother is a perfectly adequate comedy drama that investigates an area of life most people are unfamiliar with.