All About My Mother (1999)

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All About My Mother Review

All About My Mother is a 1999 Spanish drama film directed by Pedro Almodovar and it is mostly regarded as his best work.

The film is about Manuella, a nurse who after losing her son goes to Barcelona to seek for his father whom she never told they had a son. The story is wild and very fast-paced, but also always intriguing and entertaining. It is also incredibly well structured and edited with never a dull or rushed moment. I find the fact that some parts are clearly influenced by ‘All About Eve‘, as is the title I believe, fascinating and very welcome as it is a classic, incredible film and he manages to properly pay homage to it. If I have one problem, I would say it is the somewhat soapy nature of the story as it sometimes feels like telenovela, especially for its characters that are all connected in some way which screams soap opera. But it never actually becomes like that fully and it is a minor flaw I have in an outstanding film.

The character development is absolutely phenomenal with each and every character having a clear personality, flaws, soul and also charm. Yes, every character is, apart from being extremely well developed, also very likable and sympathetic. Manuella is strong as the protagonist and it is superb that her grief for her son is poignant and never as melodramatic as it could have been. As for Rosa, she is warm and a very good person and you quickly start to care about her and you feel bad afterwards for all the bad things that are happening to her. Huma is very charming and has a screen presence, but the best thing about her is that she is undeniably influenced by Bette Davis‘ Margo Channing and that is a wonderful touch as it is executed perfectly. I found Nina pretty underdeveloped, she is just a drug addict and the most boring character here, but Agrado is simply fantastic as a funny and sympathetic transsexual. Her lines are hilarious and her personality is wonderful. She is definitely the most endearing and warm character in the entire film. As for Lola, her character has the constant mystery factor as she is mentioned throughout the whole film until she finally appears in the final act and that did not disappoint as her sequence with Manuella is incredibly emotional and powerful.

The film is incredibly rich in themes. You have the theme of femininity wonderfully executed and it is explored what it really means to be a woman. The theme of loss and grief is of course present and well executed. And classic cinema and theater is present as well which was a great touch and it connected the bits and pieces of the movie perfectly. And I have to mention the sheer originality and authenticity of the movie because it truly is a one of a kind piece of work which is also very memorable and sticks with you. As for the acting, it is magnificent across the board with each performance being superb and a standout in and of itself. That definitely helped this movie be such a professional and well-crafted cinematic experience as it is.

The great thing about it is that it is never predictable as well because its story is so mature and well thought-out that it is always intriguing. The dialogue is of course superb as is the direction from Almodovar as he is the one who is responsible for the movie’s feel and ideas. And the tone is deft, mostly serious but with its own light touches of fun and humor.

The problems I found in All About My Mother despite its somewhat soapy nature are sometimes too fast-paced approach and theatre sequences. The movie should have been a bit slower, it is definitely a bit too fast for my taste. The theatre sequences are of course good, but they nevertheless become a bit repetitive near the end. But those are some of the minor flaws which do not take much from the film as it is terrific in all other aspects.

With outstanding character development, excellent direction, deft pacing and a thematically rich, original and always entertaining and involving plot, All About My Mother is a fantastic film which has its minor flaws including a bit too fast paced approach and at times a bit soapy nature, but it is otherwise a terrific movie with its fair share of likable and sympathetic characters, excellent tone ranging from serious to funny, wonderful themes superbly explored, authentic story, great influences and it is all around an engaging, smart and incredibly well acted movie and a standout work from the director.

My Rating – 4,5

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Posted in 1990s, 1999, Drama, FILM DECADES, Foreign, MOVIE REVIEWS, Spanish and tagged , , , , .

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