[Screen It]


(1999) (Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Minor Heavy Mild Minor
Minor Minor Minor None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Mild Moderate Moderate Mild

Drama: After the death of her teenage son, a woman searches for his biological father and finds her life changing as she interacts with various characters in her former hometown.
Manuela (CECILIA ROTH) is a 38-year-old single mother who works in a medical transplant office when not tending to her 17-year-old son and aspiring writer, Esteban (ELOY AZORIN). To celebrate his recent birthday, they attend a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in their hometown of Madrid. Their celebration turns to tragedy, however, as Esteban is struck by a car and killed in his quest to get an autograph from lead actress Huma Rojo (MARISA PAREDES).

Distraught by her loss, Manuela returns to Barcelona where she left many years ago after getting pregnant by the boy's father, Esteban, who now goes by Lola (TONI CANTÓ), since becoming a transvestite. In her search for Lola, whom Esteban wished to know, Manuela runs into her old friend, La Agrado (ANTONIA SAN JUAN), a cross-dressing prostitute who once lived with her and Lola.

She takes Manuela to meet Sister Rosa (PENÉLOPE CRUZ) who cares for the many local prostitutes. After being introduced to Rosa's mother (ROSA MARIA SARDÁ) and senile father (FERNANDO FERNÁN GÓMEZ), Manuela manages to meet Huma as well as her drug-addicted partner and co-actor, Nina (CANDELA PEÑA), who are now in Barcelona performing the Tennessee Williams play.

Huma and Manuela immediately hit it off with the former hiring the latter as her personal assistant, much to Nina's chagrin. Soon, she's standing in as an understudy for Nina in the play and that, along with her caring for Rosa, who turns out to be pregnant and HIV-positive from an encounter with Lola, occupies most of her time. Even so, she hopes to eventually find Lola and tell him about the son he never knew he had.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or of director Pedro Almodóvar, it's highly unlikely.
For sexuality including strong sexual dialogue, language and some drug content.
  • CECILIA ROTH plays a single mother who travels back to her hometown after the death of her teenage son. Along the way she helps and cares for others and occasionally uses some strong profanity. It's also briefly implied that Manuela was a former prostitute before she became pregnant with Esteban.
  • ELOY AZORIN plays her son and aspiring writer who wants to know more about the father he's never met.
  • MARISA PAREDES plays an older, lesbian actress who smokes, cusses some and befriends Manuela.
  • ANTONIA SAN JUAN plays a cross-dressing prostitute who's slowing becoming a woman (through surgery).
  • PENÉLOPE CRUZ plays a nun who's pregnant and HIV-positive from an encounter with a transvestite prostitute.
  • CANDELA PEÑA plays Huma's lesbian lover, a temperamental actress who uses profanity and drugs.
  • TONI CANTÓ plays Manuela's former lover, now a transvestite who's impregnated Rosa and infected her with AIDS.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated, subtitled drama. Profanity consists of at least 9 subtitled uses of the "f" word, along with other profanities and colorful phrases. Sexually related dialogue (referring to oral sex) is present, and some nudity and brief sexual activity is seen. In addition, several characters are transvestites and prostitutes.

    Some brief drug use occurs and a character is noted as being a junkie. Meanwhile, some drinking and smoking are also present. A character is hit by a car and later dies (thus generating some tense family scenes) and another character - a nun - is both pregnant and HIV-positive from an encounter with a transsexual prostitute.

    Beyond that, some bad attitudes and a brief moment of violence, the rest of the film is relatively void of other major objectionable content. Even so, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings should you still be concerned about this film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may wish to see it.

  • Some actors in a performance of "A Streetcar Named Desire" drink during a scene (this occurs in a later performance as well).
  • When Manuela asks La Agrado if he has any alcohol, the transvestite says that he drank it all the night before (but Manuela only wanted it to sterilize his wound).
  • Huma drinks from a flask.
  • Huma states that Nina is a junkie.
  • Some people on the street drink and may also be doing drugs. Later, we see people smoking what looks like pot on the street.
  • Manuela reports that Nina is "bombed" and can't perform in the play.
  • Agrado arrives with a bottle of liquor and we then see that he/she, Manuela and Huma have finished/are working on three bottles of liquor.
  • La Agrado has some blood from his nose after being attacked.
  • We learn that Lola not only impregnated Rosa, a nun, but also infected her with AIDS.
  • Nina is a temperamental, drug-addicted actress.
  • Some viewers may see the transvestites as having bad attitudes, particularly since the ones here are also male/female prostitutes (it's also briefly implied that Manuela was a former prostitute herself).
  • Esteban is struck and severely injured by a car (he later dies from the related injuries).
  • We briefly see a "client" getting rough with La Agrado who then pulls out a switchblade, but doesn't get to use it since Manuela hits the assailant with a large rock.
  • Switchblade: Briefly pulled out by La Agrado to defend himself.
  • Phrases (in English subtitles): "Screwing" and "Blow job" (both sexual), "Bastard," "Faggot," "Bitch," "Slut" and "Whores."
  • Manuela's sudden reaction to Esteban nearly being hit by a car may startle some viewers.
  • There is a brief instance of slightly suspenseful/ominous music.
  • None.
  • The following are seen in English subtitles: At least 9 "f" words, 2 "s" words, 2 slang terms for sex ("screwing"), 11 slang terms for/using male genitals ("c*ck," "d*ck" and "pr*ck"), 8 slang terms for breasts (variations of "t*t"), 3 S.O.B.s, 2 asses (1 used with "hole"), 2 damns, 1 hell, and 1 use each of "My God," "God" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • Esteban asks his mother whether she would prostitute herself for him.
  • We see some prostitutes who show cleavage.
  • We see several bare-breasted women and then a quick shot of a woman performing oral sex on a man. We also see a woman caressing her own breasts.
  • We see La Agrado's bare breast and later he/she shows cleavage.
  • La Agrado mentions having condoms and then complains about not being able to "suck" due to his hurt jaw. Later, La Agrado mentions that his/her lips are for "sucking."
  • We learn that Sister Rosa is pregnant by Lola.
  • There are some lesbian undertones/implications concerning Huma and Nina.
  • Manuela tells a story about a woman's husband who left and was "screwing everyone."
  • Manuela asks Rosa, "Why the hell did you screw Lola?"
  • Nina shows cleavage.
  • Agrado says that he/she is a model of discretion "even when I'm sucking someone's c*ck." Huma then chimes in that it's been ages "since I sucked one."
  • As Nina changes clothes we see her in her bra and panties (and see part of the side of her bare butt in them).
  • After Nina asks Agrado "Will you show me your c*ck later," the transvestite tells her that she can "lick it."
  • A man asks Agrado, "Will you give me a blow job?" stating that it relaxes him. Agrado then tells that man "You give me one" and comments are then made about being the first time I "sucked a woman's c*ck" and "The whole company is obsessed with my c*ck." Someone then says something along the lines of "I'll suck you off and show you how a woman likes it." Nothing ever happens between these two, however.
  • Both Huma and Nina smoke a few times, while Lola smokes once. Various miscellaneous characters smoke and we see a picture of actress Bette Davis smoking.
  • Manuela tells Esteban that his father died before he was born, but we later learn that isn't true.
  • Manuela must deal with Esteban's death.
  • Some family members deal with a daughter's death.
  • Transvestites/Cross-dressers.
  • Organ transplants.
  • AIDS.
  • The meaning of being a mother (such as Manuela being a biological one, a friendly caring one, and at the end, an adoptive one).
  • Esteban is struck and severely injured by a car (he later dies from the related injuries).
  • We briefly see a "client" getting rough with La Agrado who then pulls out a switchblade, but doesn't get to use it since Manuela hits the assailant with a large rock.

  • Reviewed December 1, 1999 / Posted December 31, 1999

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