Traumatised by the death of her son, a Spanish mother leaves for Barcelona where she seeks out old acquaintances.
For his 13th feature, Pedro Almodovar returns to his private but highly accessible world. The title echoes All About Eve, and All About My Mother embraces some of the plot (turned inside-out) of the great Bette Davis vehicle while exploring its thesis, that all women are great actresses but their skill at emoting in public doesn't mean that they hurt any the less inside.
Manuela (Roth) promises to tell her teenage son who his father is, but he is killed by a car while pursuing an actress (Paredes) for an autograph. Manuela, whose job at a hospital includes playing the part of a bereaved mother in seminars to teach students how to approach a patient's relatives to get permission for organ donation, has to go through the business of letting her own son's body be harvested. She then heads for Barcelona in search of her son's father, a chick-with-a-dick hooker who has skipped town after robbing their oldest friend Agrado (San Juan) and impregnating (and infecting with HIV) a mixed-up nun, Rosa (Cruz).
One of the film's many pleasures is that Almodovar constantly reshuffles the plot, making fresh connections, so that everything seems to turn out properly in the end after oceans of tears. In the past, he has often erred on the side of the smirk, but here he truly goes for the heartstrings without losing the absurdist humour.
With magnificent performances all around, especially from Roth and the agonisingly beautiful Cruz, this is one you just don't want to end.