Video Picks Archive

July 12, 2000
This Week's Video Picks
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Reviews by Rachel Deahl <>

This week my picks are Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) (1999 - ) and La ley del deseo (The Law of Desire) (1987 - ).

It's fitting that Pedro Almodóvar's latest film, a campy and earnest tribute to women and motherhood, is inhabited by whores, lesbians and transsexuals. The acclaimed Spanish director has built a career on transforming stories about the sexually "deviant" into slice-of-life vignettes. In films like The Law of Desire and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Almodóvar toyed with Hollywood narrative structures to great success, slyly inserting gender-bending subplots into popularized stories of love and loss. His latest triumph, All About My Mother, is no exception. When Manuela (Cecilia Roth), loses her teenage son, Esteban, in a freak car accident, she leaves Madrid and heads for Barcelona, the city she fled 18 years earlier. She goes in search of the man she kept secret from Esteban his whole life: his father, now a transsexual hooker named Lola. What ensues is a heartfelt celebration of love, life and, ultimately, family values. Almodóvar is able to showcase what he does best in All About My Mother, namely to create lasting and powerful female characters. The mix of transsexuals, lesbians and abandoned mothers who populate the film give off a synergy of female bonding and rebirth, which is all the more fascinating considering some of the "women" have penises.
Full review by Matt Heffernan from December 26, 1999

While Almodóvar is probably most well known for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, one of his finest efforts can be found in The Law of Desire. Starring a young Antonio Banderas (pre American stardom), Almodóvar explores that fuzzy line between love and obsession. Focusing on the relationship between Pablo Quintero, an acclaimed Spanish filmmaker, and his volatile young lover (Banderas), the film not only poses many interesting questions about the ways in which we express our desires but it also posits many heartfelt conclusions about the inevitable price we pay for love. Carmen Maura turns in a powerful performance as Pablo's transgendered sister who became a woman to please the man with whom she was having an affair -- their father. As visually stunning as it is intellectually stimulating, The Law of Desire manages to lay bare the hopelessness of love in an oddly uplifting way.

For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
Todo sobre mi madre (1999)
La ley del deseo (1987)

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All About My Mother (1999) -- VHS (English subtitles)
All About My Mother (1999) -- DVD Home
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