Filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar takes a look at his own adolescence as well as confronting the issue of sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church in this stylish drama, which was chosen to open the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Enrique Goded (Fele Martínez) is a Spanish filmmaker who is having trouble settling on a new project when he's approached by Ignacio Rodriguez (Gael García Bernal), who was his close friend when they were schoolboys. Goded, who fell in love for the first time with Rodriguez, barely recognizes the man as his former crush, but agrees to read the short story he's written. The tale turns out to be an semi-autobiographical account of their days in a Catholic boarding school, in which a cross-dressing night-club performer named Zahara (also played by Bernal) hooks up with a man named Enrique (Alberto Ferreiro), who turns out to have been his first lover when he was a student. Recalling their school days, Zahara tracks down Father Manolo (Daniel Giménez Cacho), one of his teachers from school with pedophilic tendencies, and threatens to expose the priest's attempts to seduce him and ruin his relationship with Enrique years ago. Goded decides to use the story as the basis for his next film, and Rodriguez, an out-of-work actor, makes it clear he's eager to play Zahara. However, Goded isn't certain if Rodriguez is the right actor for the role, or if he's even the man he claims to be; an angry conflict with Rodriguez leads Goded back to the real Ignacio's mother (Petra Martínez).
by Mark Deming synopsis