Andrea’s Angle | “Parallel Mothers” – Compelling Performances

Penelope Cruz is an amazing actress and as soon as I heard she was in this film, I wanted to see it. I also thought the concept was fascinating. In the film, two mothers form a strong bond as they both get ready to give birth. The idea of two women raising children and bonding with each other is one that is rarely seen in films so I looked forward to seeing how it was presented. In viewing the film, I found the performances compelling, the story engaging if slow at points, with a suspenseful plot and layers of detail.

Parallel Mothers is a Spanish drama film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. In the film, Janis Martinez (Penelope Cruz), meets a forensic scientist Arturo (Israel Elejalde). In the midst of gaining his assistance on a mass grave that includes her great-grandfather, she begins a relationship with him. When she finds out she’s pregnant, she is thrilled despite his reluctance. She meets a young woman, Ana (Milena Smit), at the hospital. Ana is adolescent and scared and the two women form a strong bond as they both confront motherhood. But Janis has secrets and eventually those secrets impact everyone around her, including Ana.

Among the best elements of this film are the details and how the story revolves around Janis and Ana. As Janis bonds with her daughter and Ana, she discovers truths. Some of those details lead inevitably to particular outcomes. Some of the outcomes are actually surprising and unexpected. Janis’ actions lead her to bury the truth rather than confront it and that result makes for a strong drama, a rich story, and an intriguing plot.

The highlight of the film is how it delves into family, both the past and the present. It presents family as different than you would expect though. Rather than just focusing on blood relations, it develops friendships and bonds of love as strong as those of blood. Ana’s relationship with Janis is as strong as any familial bond but it also shows how strong the bond of motherhood is to each woman as well. Those bonds lead to authentic and very real consequences but also real love between Janis and those she cares about.

The performances are the highlight of the film. Penelope Cruz is loving, warm, and strong as Janis. Her performance holds extraordinary passion, rich experience, and realistic actions. She shines as Janis. But equally brilliant is Milena Smit as Ana. Her skill at portraying her character as young and inexperienced helps advance the plot and add to the drama. Without her contrast to Janis, the plot would not advance. Milena also has a compelling dynamic with the actress playing her mother, Teresa (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón). Both women bring a strong chemistry to their respective roles. Milena and Penelope are both charming and engaging in their roles and this adds to creating an interesting film.

If there is a flaw to the story, it is that it is winding and is slow in the beginning and middle of the film. It does advance quicker in the conclusion and while the plot is winding with some of the connections slow to be revealed, it does hold your attention. If it were quicker, it would help but there is also the possibility you would lose the impact of family on the story. The movie also gives some real unpredictable moments which are rare and Ana never quite behaves as you would expect for such a young mother. That impact makes for a great story.

If you love Penelope Cruz and you like foreign films, I think this drama is worth watching. Penelope Cruz is brilliant and Milena Smit is gifted. The two women have rich chemistry and warmth. The plot is engaging and has some true unpredictable elements with a rich story about family in all its dimensions. I genuinely enjoyed the performances and the ending of the film was satisfying.

4 out of 5 graves.

 

Official Website: Parallel Mothers | Sony Pictures Classics
Facebook: @ParallelMothers
Instagram: @parallel__mothers

 

Parallel Mothers

Genre: Drama

Two women, Janis and Ana, coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth. Both are single and became pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along the hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between the two, which by chance develops and complicates, and changes their lives in a decisive way. PARALLEL MOTHERS is now playing in select cities and will open in Phoenix AZ Friday, January 7, 2022, and in Tucson AZ Friday, January 28, 2022.

ONE-LINER: The story of two mothers who give birth the same day.


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