Almost forty years ago, a young girl of fourteen has sex, gets pregnant, and gives her baby up for adoption. Fast-forwarding to the present day, we meet three very different women, each of whom struggles to maintain control of their lives. There's Elizabeth, a smart and successful lawyer who uses her body to her advantage. Any time she feels that she doesn't have the upper hand, and cannot control the situation, she uses her sex appeal - whether that be starting a romance with her boss when she suspects he is trying to start one himself, or finding some way to control her overly friendly neighbor and husband. Karen, meanwhile, is a bitter health care professional who obviously has a lot of heart but never shows it. She gave up a daughter at the age of fourteen (wonderfully shown rather than told, she is the young girl and mother of Elizabeth), and has never gotten over it - her bitterness inspiring her to lash out at everyone around her - even the gentle man at work who is undeniably ...Written by
Sony Pictures Classics
Adoption, redemption, love and lack of love--all the big stuff, well made
Mother and Child (2009)
A drama filled with crosscurrents and heavy emotional stuff, yet told in such a normal and realistic way we come to believe it. And like it. Especially the acting, with Naomi Watts and Annette Bening leading two generations (and defining the title).
More than just exploring what a woman and her daughter (or her mother) need from one another (and give), this is about that first stage of becoming a mother—and deciding whether to keep the baby at all. So you see, it gets huge. And then comes the long term issue of adoption and finding, with luck, your adopted mother. The anger and released fears and the decades of doubts all flip and resolve, and this is all here.
What helps all along is the imperfect characters. In fact, Watts (as the conniving, independent daughter) and Bening (as the bitter, lonely mother) are really unlikable. At first. What keeps you going is the tenderness of two of the men, played by Jimmy Smits and Samuel L. Jackson, both with wonderful subtlety. While it never becomes "father and child" at all, these men really help nurture the mother and daughter relationships.
So who is this Columbian director and writer who pulled this together so well? He's had a mixed career writing and producing, and directing, including some "Six Feet Under" episodes and other spot jobs. He seems to lean toward interpersonal dramas, and has a knack for playing down sentiment while tuning into emotional impact (which is very different). It works.
Some people might find the plot too controlled, too contrived (almost but not quite to the point of predictability). Others might find the restraint all a bit too realistic, so that you kind of see too much real life and not enough theater. For me it walked a great line between all these poles. Good stuff!
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