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Looking initially like your typical girls audience's movie, "Mother and child" can almost be described as innovative, albeit in a subtle and minimalism fashion.With a prologue of a teenage (barely, at 14) pregnancy that seems a rather favorite plot line these days, this film follows three separate stories, of which the ultimate convergence of two can be detected almost immediately, while the third continues to remain at a distance until almost close to the end. But then right from the beginning, there is a shared theme: unwanted pregnancy and one of its common solutions – offer for adoption.In the first one, middle-aged Annette Bening is spinster Karen who is struggling with a strained relationship with her invalid mother Nora. This is compounded by the fact that the hired Latin domestic support Sofia (Elpidia Carrillo) seems to have taken over her zone as the recipient of her mother's affection and trust. An added aggravation is that Sofia needs to bring to work her otherwise unattended tiny daughter, other rival for Nora's attention. At the work front (Karen is a physiotherapist), the comeback of a gentle, caring co-worker Paco (Jimmy Smits) stirs up in her emotional life ripples that at times turn stormy. As happenings unfold, the fact that Karen turns out to be the pregnant teenager in the prologue is of course not a surprise. I won't go into some of the key happenings in this plot line. Suffices to tell that after some soul-searching and self-discovery, Karen goes to Sister Joanne (Cherry Jones, Molly Star in "Ocean's Twelve") who arranged the adoption over 30 years ago, seeking support to establish contact with a daughter that she has never seen.Naomi Watts is a mid-thirtyish, successful lawyer Elizabeth, stunningly beautiful, ruthlessly aggressive, moving from job to job (and city to town) each several years, unattached, valuing her independence above all else. She prefers to report to a boy as girls bosses "find her threatening". The recent such male boss is Paul (Samuel L. Jackson), recently bereaved, with grown kids but still dashingly attractive. As a plot line, development of sexual relationship between the two is almost mandatory. Although with this man, Elizabeth seems to search the closest thing to love she has ever experienced, she is not going to give up her independence and customary sexual freedom with men. Right from her very first scene, the interview with Paul, it is made clear to the audience that Elizabeth is the daughter that Karen gave up for adoption over thirty years ago. The key development here is Elizabeth getting pregnant, which she thinks is impossible as she had this attended to in a cross-border medical visit (she was then 17, a minor). The miracle of carry other life in her sets Elizabeth's mind on looking for her biological mother. Yes, again. Sister Joanne comes into the picture.The third plot line develops around Lucy (Kerry Washington, greatest remember by many as Della Bea Robinson in "Ray") who is unable to give her husband Joseph (David Ramsey) a child. The couple decides on adoption and with the support of Sister Joanne (obviously) goes through a find that turns out to be tempestuously traumatic. As mentioned, the convergence of this third plot line with the others is not obvious and does not come about until close to the end, with a plot twist.While the above might appear to be a reasonably comprehensive synopsis, there is a lot of features that I have omitted, features of importance both to plot development and to the understanding of the protagonists. Similarly omitted are relatively minor characters such as the doctor that initially diagnosed Elizabeth's pregnancy (Amy Brenneman whom you could remember if you have seen "The Jane Austen Ebook Club") or the Karen's teenager lover actually met in a possibility re-encounter (David Morse). There are just too many for me to mention all here. One very remarkable thing is that every one of this huge ensemble of characters perform the roles with such attention and dedication as if it were a lead role. The unbelievable effect is plain to be seen. The three leads are simply superb, all Oscar-worthy.
Rodrigo Garcia's 'Mother and Child' is one of the most moving poetic movies I have seen of newest times. Garcia's previous movies comprised of short vignettes and, on the surface, 'Mother and Child' appears that way. Though the connection between Elizabeth's storyline and Karen's storyline is apparent, the another subplots initially appear as though they have no url to Karen and Elizabeth.While there have been numerous films of intertwined lives and stories, only several movies have managed to have powerful urls and 'Mother and Child' is one of them and in addition the url between the stories is very significant and it's beautifully done. Moreover the twists and turns are superb. Rodrigo Garcia truly has created a treasure here. His eloquent writing breathes poetry as the storyline of his characters' lives unfold. Each single character, even the minor ones, are excellently fleshed out.The execution is just as wonderful. The art direction, cinematography, editing and lighting is first rate. The soundtrack is simply amazing.Each and each one of the actors does nothing short of wonderful and they deliver some of their finest performances. Annette Bening and Naomi Watts are spellbinding as the mother and daughter, two lost souls leading fractured lives until they gradually search purpose. Kerry Washington is magnificent as the wannabe mother desperate to have a kid while being unaware of the challenges of motherhood. Jimmy Smits is terrific. Garcia's regulars, Elizabeth Peña, Elpidia Carillo and Amy Brenneman are very effective in brief roles and Cherry Jones is brilliant.'Mother and Child' offers the viewer what they don't know they were looking for in a film. While it is no surprise how many gems are overlooked by folks because of lack of recognition, it's a shame that this precious tiny movie falls under this category. I couldn't suggest it more and it's become among my favourites.
Rodrigo Garcia, the writer, director of "Mother And Child" is the son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez no less but his universe is solidly set on a reality that doesn't shy away from poetry. A poetry emerging from an launch female heart. Wanting and longing for things we lost, for thing we allow out of our lives. Annette Bening is superb. Superb! "She's 38 today" Annette says her failing mother, talking about the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was merely 14. Naomi Watts is the long lost daughter and she is an modernized ver of the mother she never knew. Naomi Watts confirms, once more, her extraordinary range. The movie works on each lvl and we live the changes the characters suffer with a palpitating heart of recognition. The whole cast is outstanding with Samuel L Jacksong giving a performance that is a revelation in itself. Gentle, strong, moving, strong and funny. A movie I highly recommend.
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