All About My Mother

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
All About My Mother Movie Poster Image
Thought-provoking Almodovar drama; lots of sex, profanity.
  • R
  • 1999
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Life has a strange way of circling around, sometimes closing and sometimes repeating. Especially for women, enduring it requires tremendous inner strength. We all wear facades sometimes, but true authenticity comes from trying to resemble the version of yourself that you always dreamed you could be.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Manuela models tremendous inner strength and loyal and supportive friendship, and she wants to repair past mistakes. All characters model strong bonds of friendship and family. A minor character is a drug addict; negative consequences come to those who care about her and to her career.

Violence

One scene shows a sexual assault with one of the victim's breasts clearly shown. There's hitting, struggling with a knife, a hard hit on the back of the head with a rock, and blood streaming from a nose. Later the victim's bruised and swollen face is shown. A fatal car crash is shown with non-graphic, blurry images; anguished cries are heard. Important characters die.

Sex

A prostitute pickup point briefly shows two topless women. Prostitutes in scanty clothing pose suggestively. Brief, simulated glimpse of man receiving oral sex. A pregnant nun is a major plot point. A woman grabs a transgender woman's breast several times. Lots of frank talk about sexual acts using crude language. A character is HIV-positive.

Language

In translation from Spanish: "f--k," "whore," "c--k," "d--k," "bitch," "t--ts," "s--t," "screwing," "ass" (body part), "asshole," "bulls---ters," "bastard," "blow job," "hell," "lesbo," "suck you off," "damn," "faggot," and "slut."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Actors in a play drink from wine and beer bottles. A woman drinks from a flask when she hears bad news. Adults drink champagne in celebration. A minor character is a drug addict; some discussion about her addiction, looking for her when she's out seeking drugs, and in one scene she smokes something behind a closed door. Many background people smoke, and one central character smokes regularly. Scenes from a play show actors smoking on stage.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All About My Mother is a Spanish-language film (with English subtitles) from 1999 by Pedro Almodóvar. There's a lot of frank talk about sexuality and sex acts using crude language, but the only depiction is a brief, vague simulation of oral sex. Language used includes "c--k," "d--k," "f--k," and "t--ts," and more, mostly in an "among friends" context, not verbal hostility. A major plot point includes a pregnant nun. One scene briefly shows a sexual assault with one breast clearly shown, and blood streams from the victim's nose. Women's breasts are briefly glimpsed at a prostitute pickup circle. Important characters die. A minor character is a drug addict; there's some discussion about her addiction, with characters looking for her when she's out seeking drugs, and in one scene she smokes something behind a closed door. Teens may be attracted by the strong sexual themes (including a major transgender character), but the themes are subtly and slowly explored. Best for mature, patient viewers.

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What's the story?

In ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, tragedy drives Manuela (Cecilia Roth) to return to Barcelona 18 years after fleeing to Madrid as a pregnant and unmarried young woman. While she's looking for the father of her child, she reunites with an old friend, takes in a pregnant nun, and becomes a personal assistant to the unwitting catalyst of the tragedy that pulled her back to Barcelona in the first place.

Is it any good?

Pedro Almodóvar's well-known reverence of women is beautifully realized here, thanks to a fantastic script, steady hand, and keen, loving eye for detail. Every character in All About My Mother adds a nuance, from brilliant shine to dark shadow, to the multifaceted gem that is womanhood. And Almodóvar does so with a light, down-to-earth touch that never looks down from on high. Fantastic performances and a story that unfolds gracefully make it well worth watching. Best for mature teens who can handle graphic talk about sex and gender identity. It's a thoughtful and thought-provoking movie that rewards the patient viewer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in All About My Mother. How much is OK? Does it seem realistic to you?

  • How does the movie explore gender identity, especially through the character Agrado? Did her character teach you anything new, or change how you feel, about transgender people?

  • Have attitudes about HIV/AIDS changed much since the movie was made in 1999? How so, or why not? How accurate is Rosa's story, in terms of how she became HIV-positive and the effect on her baby?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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