Film Scouts on the Riviera 1999

"Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother)"

by David Sterritt

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If any filmmaker at Cannes realized his potential at the highest level it was Pedro Almodovar, even if the jury deemed "All About My Mother" worthy of only the best-director prize. Spain's feistiest and flashiest filmmaker made his breakthrough with "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" almost a dozen years ago, but has offered a series of disappointments ever since. Last year's "Live Flesh" showed signs of a comeback, and "All About My Mother" follows cheerfully up on this promise with its peripatetic but always involving tale of a mother spurred to reexamine her life after her son's untimely death. The movie borrows smartly and inventively from an eclectic list of sources ranging from Tennessee Williams, whose "A Streetcar Named Desire" provides a dramatic leitmotif, to John Cassavetes, whose "Opening Night" clearly inspired key aspects of the plot. It's a pleasure to see this energetic auteur back in top-rate form, and I'm looking forward to his next offerings more eagerly than I have in years.

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