All About My Mother
Spanish theatrical release poster
by Oscar Mariné
SpanishTodo sobre mi madre
Directed byPedro Almodóvar
Written byPedro Almodóvar
Produced byAgustín Almodóvar
CinematographyAffonso Beato
Edited byJosé Salcedo
Music byAlberto Iglesias
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 16 April 1999 (1999-04-16) (Spain)
  • 19 May 1999 (1999-05-19) (France)
Running time
  • 104 minutes
  • 101 minutes[1] (US cut)
  • Spain
  • France
  • Spanish
  • Catalan
  • English
BudgetP600 million ($4,989,091)
Box office$67.8 million

All About My Mother (Spanish: Todo sobre mi madre) is a 1999 comedy-drama film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, and starring Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Candela Peña, Antonia San Juan, Penélope Cruz, Rosa Maria Sardà, and Fernando Fernán Gómez.

The plot originates in Almodóvar's earlier film The Flower of My Secret (1995) which shows student doctors being trained in how to persuade grieving relatives to allow organs to be used for transplant, focusing on the mother of a teenager killed in a road accident. All About My Mother deals with complex issues such as AIDS, gender identity, homosexuality, faith, and existentialism.

The film was a commercial and critical success internationally, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in addition to the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Awards for Best Film Not in the English Language and Best Direction (Almodóvar). The film also won six Goya Awards including Best Film, Best Director (Almodóvar), Best Actress (Roth).


Manuela is an Argentine nurse who supervises donor organ transplants at Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid. She is also a single mother to Esteban, a teenager who aspires to become a writer.

On Esteban's 17th birthday, he is hit and killed by a car while chasing after actress Huma Rojo for her autograph following a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire, where Rojo portrays Blanche DuBois. Manuela allows her son's heart be transplanted to a man in A Coruña. After tracking down the recipient, Manuela resigns from her job and travels to Barcelona in search of Esteban's father, Lola, a transgender woman whom Manuela had kept secret from her son, just as she had never told Lola about the boy.

In Barcelona, Manuela reunites with her old friend Agrado, a warm and witty transgender sex worker. She also makes several new friends: Rosa, a young HIV positive nun who works in a shelter for battered sex workers and is pregnant with Lola's child; Huma Rojo, the actress her son had admired; and Nina Cruz, Huma's co-star and lover, who struggles with drug addiction. Manuela's life becomes entwined with theirs as she cares for Rosa during her pregnancy, works as Huma's personal assistant, or takes the stage as an understudy for Nina during one of her drug abuse crises.

On her way to the hospital, Rosa asks the taxi to stop at a park where she spots her father's dog, Sapic, and then her own father, who suffers from Alzheimer's. He does not recognize Rosa and asks for her age and height, but Sapic recognizes her. Rosa dies giving birth to a healthy boy; at her funeral, Manuela finally reunites with Lola. Lola (formerly known as Esteban) is dying from AIDS and talks about how she always wanted a son. Manuela tells her about their own son Esteban and his fatal accident. Manuela adopts Rosa's son Esteban, caring for him at Rosa's parents' house. The father does not understand who Manuela is, and Rosa's mother introduces her as the new cook who is living there with her son. Rosa's father then asks Manuela about her age and height.

Manuela introduces Esteban, Rosa's son, to Lola and gives her a picture of their own Esteban. Rosa's mother spots them from the street and confronts Manuela about letting strangers see the baby. Manuela tells her that Lola is Esteban's father, but Rosa's mother is appalled and says, "That is the monster that killed my daughter?!"

Manuela flees back to Madrid with Esteban as she cannot continue to live at Rosa's house any longer. The grandmother is afraid that she will contract HIV from the baby. Manuela writes a letter to Huma and Agrado saying that she is leaving and apologizes once again for not saying goodbye like she did years before. Two years later, Manuela returns with Esteban to an AIDS convention. She tells Huma and Agrado, who now run a stage show together, that Esteban had been a miracle by becoming HIV-free. Manuela then says she is returning to stay with Esteban's grandparents. When Manuela asks Huma about Nina, Huma becomes melancholic and leaves. Agrado tells Manuela that Nina returned to her town, got married, and had a fat, ugly baby boy. Huma rejoins the conversation briefly before exiting the dressing room to go perform.



Almodóvar dedicates his film "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".

Almodóvar recreates the accident scene from John Cassavetes' Opening Night (1977) as the epicenter of the dramatic conflict.[2]

The film was mainly shot on location in Barcelona.

The soundtrack includes "Gorrión" and "Coral para mi pequeño y lejano pueblo", written by Dino Saluzzi and performed by Saluzzi, Marc Johnson, and José Saluzzi, and "Tajabone", written and performed by Ismaël Lô.[3]

The poster for the film was designed by Madrid illustrator Óscar Mariné. This poster was designed to epitomize the very image of beauty, simplicity, and femininity. The poster intentionally emphasizes red, white and blue with black accent strokes and a pop of yellow.[4]


The film premiered in Spain on 8 April 1999 and went into general theatrical release on 16 April. It was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the Auckland Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, and the New York Film Festival before going into limited release in the United States. It eventually grossed €9,962,047 in Spain ($12,595,016), $8,272,296 in the US and $59,600,000 in foreign markets for a worldwide box office total of $67,872,296.[5]


Critical response

Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it Almodóvar's "best film by far", noting he "presents this womanly melodrama with an empathy to recall George Cukor's and an eye-dampening intensity to out-Sirk Douglas Sirk". She added, "It's the crossover moment in the career of a born four-hankie storyteller of ever-increasing stature. Look out, Hollywood, here he comes".[6]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times observed, "You don't know where to position yourself while you're watching a film like All About My Mother, and that's part of the appeal: Do you take it seriously, like the characters do, or do you notice the bright colors and flashy art decoration, the cheerful homages to Tennessee Williams and All About Eve, and see it as a parody? . . . Almodóvar's earlier films sometimes seemed to be manipulating the characters as an exercise. Here the plot does handstands in its eagerness to use coincidence, surprise and melodrama. But the characters have a weight and reality, as if Almodóvar has finally taken pity on them – has seen that although their plights may seem ludicrous, they are real enough to hurt".[7]

Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "No one else makes movies like this Spanish director" and added, "In other hands, these characters might be candidates for confessions – and brawls – on The Jerry Springer Show, but here they are handled with utmost sympathy. None of these goings-on is presented as sordid or seedy. The presentation is as bright, glossy and seductive as a fashion magazine . . . The tone of All About My Mother has the heart-on-the-sleeve emotions of soap opera, but it is completely sincere and by no means camp".[8]

Wesley Morris of the San Francisco Examiner called the film "a romantically labyrinthine tribute that piles layers of inter-textual shout-outs to All About Eve, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Federico García Lorca and Alfred Hitchcock, and beautifully assesses the nature of facades . . . Almodóvar imbues his Harlequin-novel-meets-Marvel-comic-book melodramas with something more than a wink and a smile, and it is beguiling. His expressionism and his screenwriting have always had fun together, but now there is a kind of faith and spirituality that sexcapades like Law of Desire and Kika only laughed at... it contains a host of superlative firsts: a handful of the only truly moving scenes he has filmed, the most gorgeous dialogue he has composed, his most dimensional performances of his most dimensional characters and perhaps his most dynamic photography and elaborate production design".[9]

Jonathan Holland of Variety called the film "emotionally satisfying and brilliantly played" and commented, "The emotional tone is predominantly dark and confrontational . . . But thanks to a sweetly paced and genuinely witty script, pic doesn't become depressing as it focuses on the characters' stoic resilience and good humor".[10]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 98% based on 95 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 8.10/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "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."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 87 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[12] In 2018 the film was ranked 32nd in BBC's list of The 100 greatest foreign language films.[13] British Film Institute ranked the film at No. 69 on its list of "90 great films of 1990s".[14]

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

BAFTA Awards

Golden Globe Awards

Goya Awards

Other awards

Stage adaptation

A stage adaptation of the film by playwright Samuel Adamson received its world première at the Old Vic in London's West End on 4 September 2007. This production marked the first English language adaptation of any of Almodóvar's works and had his support and approval.[16] Music by the film's composer, Alberto Iglesias, was incorporated into the stage production, with additional music by Max and Ben Ringham. It starred Colin Morgan, Diana Rigg, Lesley Manville, Mark Gatiss, Joanne Froggatt, and Charlotte Randle. It opened to generally good reviews, with some critics stating it improved upon the film.[17][18]

See also


  1. ^ "ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 5 July 1999. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  2. ^ Bodenheimer, Rebecca (6 March 2020). "An Ode to Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother on Its 20th Anniversary". Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  3. ^ "All About My Mother (1999) Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  4. ^ Bengoa, María Tabuenca (31 January 2012). "El 'leit motiv' de la estética de Pedro Almodóvar analizado a través de la cartelística de su obra". Index.comunicación (in Spanish). 1 (1): 89–144. ISSN 2174-1859.
  5. ^ "". 28 August 2002. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  6. ^ "New York Times review". The New York Times. 24 September 1999. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Chicago Sun-Times review". Chicago Sun-Times. 22 December 1999. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  8. ^ Graham, Bob (22 December 1999). "San Francisco Chronicle review". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  9. ^ Wesley Morris, Examiner Film Critic (22 December 1999). "San Francisco Examiner review". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  10. ^ Holland, Jonathan (15 April 1999). "Variety review". Variety. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  12. ^ "All About My Mother Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  13. ^ "The 100 Greatest Foreign Language Films". bbc. 29 October 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  14. ^ "90 great films of 1990s". 18 July 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: All About My Mother". Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  16. ^ Benedict, David (18 June 2006). "Variety article". Variety. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  17. ^ "BBC article". BBC News. 5 September 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  18. ^ " article". article. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2012.