Film & TV

Film Review: Parallel Mothers

Two women, Janis and Ana, coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth.. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a close link which changes their lives in a decisive way.

Pedro Almodóvar, longstanding film director of forty years, has for a seventh time, cast Penelope Cruz as one of his leads in his latest film Parallel Mothers.

Cruz plays the role of Janis, a modern woman with a successful career as a photographer, single and childless. When, nearing forty, she becomes accidentally pregnant, she is pleasantly surprised, and well prepared for the responsibility. Contrastingly, is Ana (Milena Smit), the pregnant teenager, who is neither emotionally nor financially prepared.

Although both actresses do an outstanding performance, only Cruz has so far taken out three awards for Best Actress. Cruz brings to life the role of the mother who is balancing work, motherhood, and personal relationships. From scenes of her in the studio as a creative professional, to scenes within her home cooking or in her role as a mother, it feels like she is not acting. The other part of Janis that we see, which ties in both the father of the child and the subplot of historical fiction, is her desire to unearth the mass grave in her home village.

The father of Janis’s daughter is Arturo, played by Magical Girl’s Israel Elejalde. He is the archaeologist who she approaches to complete the excavation of a mass grave of those buried in the Spanish Civil War, and how they originally meet. Their relationship is only a small part of the film and has little to do with the main theme which focuses on intergenerational relationships, in particular, the mother/daughter relationship.

Parallel Mothers seeks to shed light on how children can feel unloved or unwanted, how the relationship between one’s parents affect each of their relationships to their child, how parents can become estranged from their children, what it means to ‘be ready’ as a mother, and the ‘maternal instinct’.  

It is suitable for any audience. It appeals to the older generation who may resonate with those in the film that have been desperately trying to find the remains of ancestors buried during the Spanish Civil War, the middle generation who are balancing both career and parenthood, and the youth of today, who are discovering themselves as well as attaining independence.

Parallel Mothers has won eight Goya award nominations, two Golden Globe award nominations, and was rated one of the top ten films of 2021 by Entertainment Weekly.

Parallel Mothers opens on January 27th. There is also a special preview screening this Friday at Palace Nova Eastend (includes a glass of sangria!). Click here for tickets.

A unique plot with a tinge of history 5 stars

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