Single parent Manuela (Cecilia Roth) takes her son, Esteban, to a Madrid theatre as an 18th birthday treat. At the end of the evening, Manuela planned to explain the reason behind her husband's 18-year absence but tragedy strikes when Esteban tries to get the autograph of stage queen Huma Rojos (Peredes), outside the theatre.
In the depths of despair, Manuela leaves for Barcelona in search of her husband - now a transexual named Lola - and starts work for Rojos' travelling production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Re-united with old friend Agrado (Antonia San Juan), Manuela draws on her experience as a nurse to comfort pregnant Sister Rosa (Penélope Cruz) en-route to a devastating encounter with Lola.
From its beautifully drawn opening scene, to the genuinely uplifting finale, All About My Mother combines the pain of living and being left behind with an almost unique brand of wicked humour and, amazingly, never misses a beat.
Making full use of his finest cast to date (Cecelia Roth and Marisa Peredes are beyond remarkable), Pedro Almodóvar pitches his characters into a downward spiral, inducing tears of laughter and heartfelt sympathy from all but the coldest heart.
This is magisterial cinema, displaying an acute awareness of the one-nation language of the movies and also confirming Pedro Almodóvar's blossoming reputation as one of the brightest talents currently working.