All About My Mother

Bomb Rating: 

Just why is it that filmmakers seem to find transvestites so damninteresting? I mean, for God's sake, a man puts on women's clothing or has his dick cut off and suddenly filmmakers are banging down his door so he can play the role of the wacky best friend.

In Pedro Almodovar's latest, transvestite hookers provide the film's diverting window dressing. When Manuela's (Cecilia Roth) son is run over by a car she goes in search of his father who, it turns out, is a transvestite and possibly a hooker. Anyway, Manuela hooks up with her former best friend who is definitely a transvestite hooker and, of course, the life of the party, getting more choice lines than George W. Bush. Manuela soon learns that her dead son's father has also impregnated a nun, Hermana (Penelope Cruz).

Don't ask me to explain why a nun decided to screw a transvestite because I don't have the slightest idea, but Almodovar seems to think it's funny. And it's that peculiar kind of funny where nobody asks Hermana what the hell she was thinking; they just all seem to think it's normal. Manuela ends up caring for Hermana while her funny hooker friend becomes the personal assistant to an actress, Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), who also seems to be in a destructive lesbian relationship.

Almodovar is undoubtedly trying to bring dignity to his characters by demonstrating that no matter how odd a group of people may appear on the outside, the feelings on the inside are universal. Here's the irony: It's not really a story about transvestites; it just uses them to make the whole thing seem more outlandish. For all his trying, Almodovar relegates his transvestites to the same "wacko" classification in which they've always toiled.

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