Pedro Almodovar is the most celebrated Spanish film director since Luis Bunuel and Carlos Saura. He has called All About My Mother a valentine to all mothers and all women who have played actresses in the movies. Even more important, it is a salute to the enormous fierceness, resolve, and strength it takes to be a nurturing person. In a time when so many people have become numb to the pain and suffering of those around them, being a caring soul is a gift from God.
Manuela (Cecilia Roth in a stirring performance) is a nurse and single mother in Madrid whose pride and joy is Esteban, her teenage son. When he is tragically killed in an accident on the street outside a theatre, she quits her job and travels to Barcelona to locate his father, now a transvestite.
Good fortune smiles upon her when Manuela finds employment as an assistant to actress Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), who's playing Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. But Manuela passes this job on to La Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a transvestite friend, when Sister Rosa (Penelope Cruz), a pregnant nun with AIDS, calls upon her for help. After this young woman dies, she takes her boy, names him Esteban after her son, and decides to raise him as her own.
This melodrama is laced with large dollops of humor and overt references to other films and plays. Almodovar demonstrates how some women find fulfillment through their solidarity with other women. All About My Mother won the Academy Award in 1999 for Best Foreign Language Film.