Review by Siria
Fascinated by a Woman’s Strong Way of Living
Woman is strong.
That was my first impression of this movie. Woman is strong.
The heroine, Manuela, is a single mother who lost her son Esteban in a car accident. He died on his birthday of all others.
She has grieved his death for days until she makes up her mind.
She decides to go to Barcelona to find Esteban’s father.
It’ difficult to make an important decision when you have lost someone you loved. I think only women can do that.
When it comes to romantic relationship, men in general find it harder to forget their love than women. Some are obsessed with the memories in the old days, and their friends get fed up with that.
Manuela has been living with her son peacefully for 18 years since she divorced her husband. But this peace is broken by the great sadness of losing her son. I have never married nor had any child of my own, so her pain is beyond my imagination. In the middle of her grief, she leaves Madrid to look for Esteban’s “father”. And, she does this all by herself. The scene where she leaves for Barcelona reminds me of the innate strength that a woman has inside her.
In Volver, another movie directed by Almodóvar, the “male sex” was excluded from the plot naturally. In All About My Mother, on the other hand, male only exist as the symbol of the “sex”. There are some male characters who underwent a sex-change operation (therefore regarded as female). They had breast implant surgery, but never have their penis removed. In this sense, they are male AND female at the same time. Although they serve as the symbol of male sex, they are never excluded from the plot because the half part of them is female.
Esteban’s father, Lola is also a woman with a penis. She married with Manuela, had breast implant, and now she leads a life almost same as a prostitute’s. In Barcelona, Manuela meets a nun called Sister Rosa and finds that the sister is also pregnant by Lola. Rosa is HIV positive; she dies soon after giving birth to her son. As promised Rosa, Manuela takes care of the newborn baby. Gradually, she gets past her grief of losing her own son, if not completely, and takes her life back.
Despite the title All About My Mother, Manuela’s son dies in the beginning of the story although he was the one who wanted to know all about his mother and farther. It’s intriguing that the story develops from his mother’s view while the movie is titled from the son’s view. Actually, no characters in the story can find out all about Manuela’s life; only the audience can. When you are in despair, you will be fascinated by the lives of Manuela and other strong women in this movie.
About the author: Siria was born in Brussels, Belgium. She is half-Japanese and half-English, and grew up in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. In her early days, she studied in the School of International Liberal Studies of Waseda University, believing that she should establish an international career because of her international background. But she felt uncomfortable among many other cosmopolitans and dropped out. After working as an editor and designer of cellphone websites, now she works for a company. She enjoys her free life in her own way tweeting about various topics.
(Translated by N. Tajima)