With his new film Parallel Mothers, the director dials down the camp to address the shadow of fascism hanging over his homeland

Pedro Almodóvar is in Madrid at his production company El Deseo (The Desire). El Deseo could not be a more fitting name: desire has been at the heart of his films. All sorts of desire: for love, sex, justice, acceptance and truth. Behind him are DVDs, books and a phalanx of awards. He has five Baftas, five Goyas and is the only Spanish director to have won two Oscars (best foreign film in 1999 for All About My Mother and best original screenplay for Talk to Her in 2002).

He is sitting on a purple chair, wearing a pink jumper, his hair quiffed into a punky white meringue. You suspect that every colour in Almodóvar’s life has been carefully handpicked – just as in his films. His back is ramrod straight, his manner both warm and regal. Almodóvar is a man used to being in control, and today there is a translator (despite his fluent English), assistant and publicist at his service. When I met Almodóvar previously, in Madrid in 2004, he was tense throughout our conversation, and only began to relax after the interview. At the end, he gave me a copy of a calendar I had admired, featuring pictures he had shot on location. He signed it “Things are simpler and yet more complicated”. Somehow, it seems to sum up his films and worldview perfectly.

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