Wednesday, April 04, 2007

To all people who want to become Pedro......

I must confess at the beginning that I am not an Almodóvar fan. I believe that the edginess his films are lauded for comes from their setting in a hetero-normative context, and therefore, their exploration of gay/transsexual life from a perspective that gives no credence to the "notion of the other", is thought of as radical. When, in fact, they are just ordinary stories of people grappling with AIDS, sexual identity, maternal obsession and so on.

Having said that, I liked All About My Mother, Almodóvar's 1999 film about a mother grieving over the death of a young son in an accident. Manuela, a former prostitute, ran away from Barcelona to Madrid to raise her boy Esteban. The film tracks her journey back to Barcelona in search of the boy's father, the transvestite junkie Lola. Along the way, she reunites with her friend Agrado and meets Sister Rosa (Penélope Cruz). The film dwells into Almodóvar's trademark themes of transvestism, the conflict between art and life, and how the greatest redemption is found in the unlikeliest of settings.

Watch All About My Mother. Almodóvar ends the film with: "To all actresses who have played actresses. To all women who act. To men who act and become women. To all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother." It's a touching look at a mother place's in our lives. Without getting maudlin, the movie pays tribute to the bond of motherhood, its different manifestations (a man can be mother to a child; a grieving lady to a nun) and the power of this feeling to overcome all else.

I may not much like Almodóvar, the filmmaker, but I have a feeling I will love Almodóvar, the man.

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