Cate Blanchett will star in A Manual for Cleaning Women, the first English-language feature by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. The film, now in the early stages of development, is based on Lucia Berlin’s 2015 short-story collection about women working in subservient jobs, such as laundresses, switchboard operators, and housecleaners.
During her career, Blanchett captured two Academy Awards: a supporting actress Oscar in 2004 for The Aviator and a lead trophy in 2014 for Blue Jasmine. More recently, she captivated audiences in Searchlight’s Nightmare Alley, directed by Guillermo del Toro, and in Netflix’s Don’t Look Up, directed by Adam McKay. The prolific actress is slated to appear in three more films in 2022: TAR (Todd Field), Pinocchio (Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson), and Borderland (Eli Roth).
Almodóvar told Variety that he was writing the script in Spanish but it would be translated into English for the film. Another English-language flick of his, The Human Voice, released in 2020, was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in the live-action short category. Tilda Swinton starred in that film. Almodóvar had earlier directed several acclaimed films with women as central characters: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), All About My Mother (1999), Julieta (2016), and Parallel Mothers (2020).
Published posthumously in 2015, Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women was a compilation of 43 stories based on the author’s own experience in a variety of odd jobs. It became a New York Times bestseller and was lauded by critics for its sensitive portrayal of marginalized women. The Guardian wrote that “the author’s eventful life provides the subject matter for stories pierced with loneliness and shame in a collection of great emotional range.”
A Manual for Cleaning Women is being produced for New Republic Pictures by Dirty Pictures, Blanchett’s own production company, in association with El Deseo.