All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre)

1999

All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre)

Critics Consensus

Almodovar weaves together a magnificent tapestry of femininity with an affectionate wink to classics of theater and cinema in this poignant story of love, loss and compassion.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 86

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 52,142
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Movie Info

Pedro Almodóvar directed this story of a woman and her circle of friends who find themselves suffering a variety of emotional crises. Manuela (Cecilia Roth) is a single mother who has raised her son, Esteban (Eloy Azorín), to adulthood on her own and has come to emotionally depend on him. One night, Manuela and Esteban take in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire; after the show, Esteban is struck and killed by a passing motorist as he dashes into the street to get an autograph from Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), who played Blanche. Emotionally devastated, Manuela relocates to Barcelona in hopes of finding her ex-husband (and Esteban's father), who is now working as a female impersonator. Manuela becomes reacquainted with old friend La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a transsexual, and is introduced to Sister Rosa (Penélope Cruz), a good-hearted nun who has to contend with her considerably more cynical mother (Rosa María Sardà). While looking for work, Manuela becomes acquainted with Huma Rojo. Huma, on the other hand, has troubles of her own, most involving her drug-addicted significant other, Nina (Candela Peña). Displaying Almodóvar's trademark visual style and a unusually strong sense of character-driven drama, Todo Sobre Mi Madre/All About My Mother received a highly anticipated theatrical run in Spain before winning the Best Director award at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival; in 2000, Almodóvar would receive the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre)

All Critics (86) | Top Critics (25)

Audience Reviews for All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre)

  • Apr 08, 2014
    I give it a 60% because only about 60% of the film is any good. The second Lola is shown the film is ruined. And Almodóvar couldn't make a film without nudity, could he? Nope. Femininity starts to be explored, but Lola again shuts that down completely. Not his worst film, but I expected so much more after Live Flesh.
    Jason 123 D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2013
    I love Almodovar's characters and how he brings them from the fringes to tell their fascinating stories. This is one of the most loved and although it is not my favourite Almodovar, I nonetheless this is a classic example of his work.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 15, 2012
    All About my Mother is directed and written by the Spaniard Pedro Almodovar. Being a man who never shies away from controversy he tackles the issues of Organ Donation,hookers, AIDS, and transsexuals. It was a sad beginning, especially when the mother listens in to the people who got her sons organs. I felt like with the two week transition, 3 week transition, and months transition you lost touch with the characters. I'd rather see this without skipping of long periods with it being less filled with dialogue than it skipping through large time spans and filling the used time with conversations of a trannies life. I feel like that way it would reach its full level of dramatic emotion.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Nov 09, 2011
    With the brilliant "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" being the Pedro Almodovar film I've watched prior to this, his exploration of the unparalleled emotional strength of women, at least in my self-chronology, continues on with "All About My Mother", a film that lightly caresses your heart with its poignancy but also puts into humorous situations after another the subtle absurdity of life. Although it's Almodovar's witty screenplay that is the film's beating heart, it's the sheer talent of its cast that has fueled it with pure and unbridled energy. Performances by Cecilia Roth, who played the main character Manuela, a single-parent hardened by the terrible highs and lows of life, Marisa Paredes as the stage actress Huma Rojo, Penelope Cruz who contrasts all the other performances with her subdued turn as Sister Rosa, and especially Antonia San Juan's colorful portrayal of the character Agrado (the best performance in the film), a person whose socially unacceptable transsexualism never hindered her from being an optimistic representation of a hard-living modern woman, sweeten the screen with a unique vigor for life. The film's title, "All About My Mother", when you look at how the narrative has unveiled itself, does not fully suggest that the film is indeed purely about Manuela's individual exploits as she searches on to locate her son's father and as she takes care of numerous colorful characters. With the use of the possessive pronoun 'My', which of course pertains to Manuela's son Esteban, who before dying in a tragic car accident wishes to know who his father is and who, after death, may have continued to look down upon her mother as she copes up with his death, with her quest and with life itself, it suggests that the story is spiritually progressing through Esteban's birthright to know his father. So the film, in essence, does not merely get its life force from Manuela alone, but also from the memory of Esteban's final wish. "All About My Mother" is, in context, a humanist adventure fueled by a two-sided notion for a tribute: One given by the already omniscient Esteban in an underlying manner, who flowers up her mother's endeavors by means of his prose taken from his diary, and one by Manuela herself as she tries to keep the fire burning in Esteban's torch of memory by way of fulfilling his dying wish: To find his father. Unlike the later "Goodbye, Lenin!", a film from which we rarely see the character of the mother but infinitely more of her son as he desperately find ways to fend off any shock or surprises that may worsen her health, "All About My Mother" views this idea of a parent-child relationship in an opposite way by championing the concept of a mother's love to her son (instead of the other way around), but in an equally unconditional light. In the film's entirety, its urgency is more inclined towards the dramatic rather than the comic. Of course, the spontaneity of the more humorous moments adds to the film's effective tonal shifts from colorful to gray and vice versa, but "All About My Mother" is infinitely more important to be absorbed as a drama that articulates the emotional context of promises, mistakes and reconciliations rather than as a comedy of blunders, innuendos and homosexuality. Nonetheless, the film works in either way. But what has slightly put me off about the film, on the other hand, is its running time. Pedro Almodovar greeted our senses with exuberant, highly original characters yet ends the film with suddenness. It's one thing for a film to end and for us to want more, but to ask for more plainly because something lacks is another. I don't know what I've felt between the two when the film has ended, but I surely would have loved the film more if it would have been a bit longer, and I don't care if the conflict is already resolved. Well, on second thought, maybe it's just delusion.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer

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