The Mums Who Define Pedro Almodóvar’s Films

1/28/2022 9:00:00 PM

As Pedro Almodovar’s new film Parallel Mothers is released, Alex Denney delves into the maternal figures in the Spanish director’s work

As Pedro Almodovar’s new film Parallel Mothers is released, Alex Denney delves into the maternal figures in the Spanish director’s work

As Pedro Almodovar’s new film Parallel Mothers is released, Alex Denney delves into the maternal figures and the ghosts of civil war in the Spanish director’s work

Pedro Almodóvar. For his 23rd film, the famously mother-loving Spanish auteur explores the bond struck up by two expectant mums who meet on the labour ward, teenager Ana (Milena Smit) and fashion photographer Janis (Penélope Cruz). When one of them learns a terrible secret, the scene is set for a showdown between two generations of single mums – or at least, it would be if we were in Hollywood here. Instead, this being Almodóvar, Janis and Ana’s connection grows ever-deeper as the director finds new kinks in a career-long obsession: the ties that bind mother to child, and women to other women.

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marks a return to a cherished theme for Pedro Almodóvar .But in his latest work, he has taken a more subdued look at the years that led to Franco’s long dictatorship.But in his latest work, he has taken a more subdued look at the years that led to Franco’s long dictatorship.Tobey Maguire ) appear alongside Holland’s superhero.

For his 23rd film, the famously mother-loving Spanish auteur explores the bond struck up by two expectant mums who meet on the labour ward, teenager Ana (Milena Smit) and fashion photographer Janis (Penélope Cruz). When one of them learns a terrible secret, the scene is set for a showdown between two generations of single mums – or at least, it would be if we were in Hollywood here.. Instead, this being Almodóvar, Janis and Ana’s connection grows ever-deeper as the director finds new kinks in a career-long obsession: the ties that bind mother to child, and women to other women. Almodóvar has given us some of the great screen mums over the years, from his early days as a queer punk provocateur to his later, more subtly transgressive works. In his singular vision, mothers are both nurturing figures as well as a source of erotic fixation, victims of Franco-era fascist ideology and avenging angels in the national psychodrama that played out after the dictator’s demise. “We had the only three actors to ever play Spider-Man in a film, and each had been through so much, on and off screen.

In Parallel Mothers , he folds in a plot about Janis’s attempts to disinter her great-grandfather, one of the many thousands of people that ‘disappeared’ during the Spanish civil war. It’s a timely fuck-you to the historical revisionism of the country’s resurgent far right, and a narrative sleight of hand that repositions women on the front line of Spain’s unfolding culture war. Most importantly, Parallel Mothers does what all good Almodóvar films do, which is remind us that it’s good to be alive – and who have we to thank more than our mothers for that? Here’s a quick refresher on some of the best and most royally messed up mums in his work. Gloria, What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984) Okay, so she murders her husband with a ham bone and sends her 12-year-old son to live with a paedophile dentist. But let’s not judge her too harshly, because Gloria is a woman who’s had enough.” He said: “You’re capturing something more than a scene from a movie; you’re watching a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Part-bad-taste provocation, part-gnarly satire of family values in the post-Franco era, this early gem stars Carmen Maura as a put-upon housewife who embodies the line, “Women today just won’t stay at home any more!” The film was made in 1984, as Spain came to terms with the legacy of a fascist regime which saw women enshrined as mothers and homemakers and ‘liberated’ from the right to work. Which makes Gloria a hero of sorts, and a fine example of a central conundrum about Almodóvar, a strident voice for a sex-positive, trans-positive brand of feminism who would nonetheless have been cancelled a million times over if he’d been starting out today. What Have I Done to Deserve This?, 1984 .