Following the accidental death of her 17-year-old son, Esteban, hospital worker and single mother Manuela (Cecilia Roth) leaves Madrid for Barcelona, on a search for the man she left all those years ago - Esteban, now called Lola (Toni Canto). Along the way she encounters an old friend now known as the drag queen 'La Agrado' (Antonia San Juan), distinguished actress Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes), whom her son adored, Nina (Candela Pena), a troubled drug addict who lives with Huma, and Hermana Rosa (Penelope Cruz), a young nun pregnant to none other than Lola. Manuela's journey is as much for her son's sake as her own - indeed, entirely for his, fuelled by the boy's pain at never having met his own father.
 

5
Almodovar's most wonderfully moving and mature film to date.

Manuela is grief-stricken after the death of her son, so she returns to her home town of Barcelona to find his father. But, her husband turned into Lola a long time ago, a transvestite of dubious and destructive morals. And old friend of both Manuela's and Lola's is Agrado, also a transvestite but one with warmth and practicality on her side. Manuela finds herself helping a young nun, Sister Rosa, who discovers she's pregnant as well as the actress Huma, (Marisa Paredes), who's starring in A Streetcar Named Desire and who's at her wits end about her younger co-star who's a drug addict and her lover...

There are connections everywhere in this film – plays, hearts, fathers and mothers. The thrill of Almodovar is that he's able to present a melodrama with deeply embedded rather than superficial emotions, we come to care deeply for the women in this film.

Stunning performances from Cecilia Roth as Manuela, Marisa Paredes as Huma, Antonia San Juan as Agrado and Penelope Cruz as Rosa are to be expected from this film which Almodovar dedicates to actresses. He loves and appreciates women and it shows. The trademark Almodovar bold visual style is also a plus. This is his most wonderfully moving and mature film to date.

David's Comment
Almodovar gets it all together with this compendium of many of his themes – wonderful performances, a beautifully structured screenplay, bold direction and color scheme, sharp commentary about the way American culture is overwhelming the old world, and above all a loving examination of the role of the actress – and the mother – in all our lives.