Mother & Child

>> Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spotlight category. Official description:
Destiny plays a part in the lives of three women—a 50-year-old physical therapist, the daughter she gave up for adoption 35 years earlier, and a woman looking to adopt her first child. In this exploration of one of nature's most basic instincts, their pasts intertwine, inform, and evolve to reveal their innermost desires.

Rodrigo García once again reveals himself as a master storyteller with an uncanny understanding of the psyche of his unique characters. With strong directorial vision, he dares us to go to uncharted territory in a way that is both effortless and beautiful. The nuanced performances by this stellar cast let you into the fractured existence of these women, each motivated by a deep longing that holds them prisoners in their own fate. Moving and profound, Mother & Child exposes the complex layers of life's challenges while remaining poetic and ethereal, yet painfully real on all levels.
Intense.

These three stories start out feeling like vignettes, making me wonder how they're related aside from the mother and/or child angle. But eventually they come together towards the end. These stories cover a lot of ground in two hours. I really didn't like Naomi Watts's character in the first half. She's so clearly angry with the world that she engages in somewhat sociopathic behavior, which reminded me of her role in 21 Grams. Annette Benning's character is so wound up in the first half that she becomes another person entirely in the second. And I thoroughly appreciated seeing Kerry Washington in something other than a throw-away role. (I feel like whenever I see her she's around for, like, three scenes as some guy's girlfriend.) This film is just full of character actors popping up in little parts, like David Morse and Elizabeth Peña. Casting must not have been a problem.

I know the official description says "Destiny plays a part in the lives of three women," but I couldn't help but notice that twice, I think, two characters mentioned God and plans. (One did for sure. My memory is a little hazy on the second.) I think that the writer/director Rodrigo García wants to hint at that option—a supreme being that cares for everything—rather than just destiny but not overly so. He does tie up the three main story lines quite well without stretching credibility.

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