Pedro AlmodóvarSpain101 minutes1999ColourSpanish
Almodóvar won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for his touching, visually exquisite chronicle about a grieving mother who becomes the reluctant hub of a makeshift matriarchal community.
Shedding the high-concept plots (if not the high-concept characters) of his films from the previous decade, with All About My Mother Almodóvar set out to make a film in the vein of the director he had long proclaimed his idol — Douglas Sirk — and took home his first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the bargain. When her teenage son Esteban is killed in a car crash, grieving middle-aged nurse Manuela (Cecilia Roth) heads to Barcelona in search of the boy's father, whom Esteban had never met. While searching the city for her former lover, Manuela reluctantly becomes the hub of a makeshift matriarchal community that includes a pregnant nun (Penélope Cruz), a trans hustler (Antonia San Juan), and the glamorous actress (Marisa Paredes) whom her son idolized. Marrying the soberness and maturity of Live Flesh with the heightened visuals of the director's late-'80s work, All About My Mother is "the achieved synthesis of the whole Almodóvariety show, a new genre — part farce, part weepie, low camp and high melodrama, caustic yet heartwarming, humanist and programmatically gender-blurring" (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice).