Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers had Venice Film Festival attendees on their feet in the Sala Grande this evening, giving the opening night world premiere a nine-minute standing ovation. The movie, which traces the complicated relationship of two women (Penélope Cruz and newcomer Milena Smit) who meet in a hospital room where they are going to give birth, was screened for the press this morning and has received resoundingly positive reviews.
There are political undercurrents to Parallel Mothers which add drama to the melodrama while the comedic turns of some of Almodóvar’s work are eschewed — there are the trademark candy-colored flourishes, however. In Deadline’s review of the film, Stephanie Bunbury called Parallel Mothers “profoundly and sincerely about deep love and loss” and “a triumphant choice” for the opening night of the world’s oldest film festival.
Almodóvar was last on the Lido with his adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice during the 2020 edition. Venice chief Alberto Barbera noted earlier today that the fest had been been courting the Spanish maestro to return to Venice — his 1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown having “really launched his international career.” When Almodóvar was more recently “struck” by the warm reception he’s received in Italy, “He promised me his next film would be in competition here,” said Barbera.
Parallel Mothers opens in U.S. theaters December 24 via Sony Pictures Classics.
The opening ceremony prior to the screening of Almodóvar’s latest was marked by Life Is Beautiful Oscar winner Roberto Benigni receiving a Golden Lion Career Achievement Award.