Pedro Almodovar, Penelope Cruz Look to Team Up on Motherhood-Themed ‘Madres Paralelas’

Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz'Pain and
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Pedro Almodóvar and his favorite female lead Penelope Cruz look set to re-team on feature “Madres paralelas,” a Madrid-set drama that returns to Almodóvar’s biggest creative inspiration — motherhood — and a model that has served him very well over the last 30 years.

Set to go into pre-production in October, “Madres paralelas” is scheduled to shoot from February next year and bow commercially in Spanish theaters by the end of 2021, Agustín Almodóvar — Pedro Almodóvar’s brother and producer — told Variety.

Though there is still no formal contract with Cruz, she has read and liked the screenplay, Pedro Almodóvar commented.

“Madres paralelas” is a project that Almodóvar has developed over time. However, three months of confinement during Spain’s COVID-19 crisis allowed him to advance and finish the screenplay, which turns on two mothers who give birth the same day. The film follows their parallel lives over their first and second years raising their children, Almodóvar told Spanish press agency EFE, which broke the news of what looks like Almodóvar’s next feature.

Directly or indirectly, since 1988’s Oscar-nominated “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” Almodóvar’s definitive international breakout, desire has given way to motherhood as a driving narrative force across the director’s films, most notably in 1999’s Academy Award-winning “All About My Mother” and 2006’s Oscar-nominated “Volver.” Another through-line has been a sense of identity within loose family structures.

Almodóvar picks up on this in “Pain and Glory,” the most directly autobiographical of his films, whose most memorable scenes are inspired by memories of his own inspirational relationship with his mother.

“Madres paralelas” will shoot, like nearly all Almodóvar’s productions since 1988’s “The Law of Desire,” at least partly in Madrid and totally in Spanish, produced by Agustín Almodóvar and Esther García at El Deseo, the company Pedro and Agustín Almodóvar set up to make “The Law of Desire.”

“Madres paralelas” also looks set to be made, crucially, on a modest budget by Hollywood standards, which allows Agustín Almodóvar to protect his brother’s creative vision.

The film will be offered to El Deseo’s traditional partners in Spain and an international sales agent to sell on the open market to foreign distributors, many of whom have bought Almodóvar’s movies for decades.

“It could be called a classic model, but we still believe that Pedro’s films benefit from the intensity of the viewing experience in cinema theaters,” said Agustín Almodóvar.

Almodóvar’s movies also have worldwide box office figures which many U.S. independent films would die for. Distributed in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics and sold worldwide by FilmNation, “Pain and Glory” grossed $4.6 million in domestic and $32.1 million in international. It bowed theatrically in 64 countries, including multiple Asian territories, said Agustin Almodóvar.

Almodóvar’s short with Tilda Swinton, adapting Jean Cocteau’s one-act play “The Human Voice” and his first work in the English language, is scheduled to shoot in two weeks.

The “Madres paralelas” shoot will delay Almodóvar’s feature-length adaptation of the late American writer Lucia Berlin’s short story collection, “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” which was envisaged, when announced this February, to be Almodóvar’s first feature in English. Almodóvar is still intending to make it but the complexity of adaptation requires more work on the screenplay, said Agustín Almodóvar.