Culture / Film

Pedro Almodóvar is making his English-language feature film debut, and Cate Blanchett is taking the lead

A Manual for Cleaning Women

Acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar is making his English-language feature film debut, with Cate Blanchett cast in the lead role. A Manual for Cleaning Women, is still in the early stages of production, with Blanchett’s own production company Dirty Films producing the feature for New Republic Pictures.

The film is a cinematic adaptation of the eponymous story collection written by Lucia Berlin, credited with garnering the late author a new readership when posthumously published in 2015. The book’s premise follows 43 stories navigating the lives of several women working in low-paid, demanding jobs taking a toll on their wellbeing. Almodóvar has written the script in his native Spanish before having it translated into English for the production process.

In 2020, the director premiered his first English-language short film, The Human Voice, starring the ever-versatile Tilda Swinton which was shortlisted by the Film Academy. This was followed in 2021 by the release of Spanish-language feature Parallel Mothers starring Penelope Cruz, a frequent collaborator having featured in seven Almodóvar films including Volver, Broken Embraces and Pain and Glory. Alongside Antonio Banderas, Cecilia Roth and Carmen Maura, Cruz has featured heavily across the director’s filmography, spanning more than 40 years of cinema.

What can we expect from A Manual for Cleaning Women?

Common themes of an Almodóvar film include melodrama, quirky humour and the dissection of complex narratives throughout the duration of the plot. Glossy décor and mise-en-scène are also a hallmark of the director, as evident in the idyllic seaside backdrop of Julieta which seamlessly juxtaposes the undulating, darker plot the film is exploring.

Blanchett has recently worked on the star-studded feature Don’t Look Up alongside two films with Guillermo del Toro, Pinocchio and Nightmare Alley. Dirty Films’ Andrew Yotin, Coco Francini and Blanchett herself will be producing the film alongside Brian Oliver for New Republic Pictures and Almodóvar for El Deseo. A release date for the film is still to be announced.

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