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
"No I would not give you false hope/ On this strange and mournful day/ But the mother and child reunion /Is only a motion away, oh, little darling of mine. /I can't for the life of me Remember a sadder day /I know they say let it be /But it just don't work out that way /And the course of a lifetime runs /Over and over again." Paul Simon
Everything in the moving Mother and Child moves inexorably and lyrically toward a reunion, most notably between mother Karen (Annette Bening) and daughter Elizabeth (Naomi Watts). The other women in the movie are either moving toward birthing or adopting or just being mothers to children who are in the motion.
Mother and Child is one of the best movies I have seen this year and like The Bad Seed and Secrets and Lies among the most powerful about adoption and the challenges of being a mother. At 14, Karen gave up Elizabeth for adoption. Elizabeth colors every moment of Karen's life until she must seek her out. So, too, Elizabeth's awareness of the mother she has never seen.
Writer/director Rodrigo Garcia masterfully moves among mothers and mothers to be (Elizabeth becomes pregnant in the course of the film) to create a mosaic of longing and love, not one situation resolved in a typically Hollywood way, but just as the fates allow for real people. Woven into the dramatic tensions of a mother trying to reconnect with a child, a new mother surrendering to the difficulties of motherhood, and older mothers trying to support their challenged daughters, Garcia has a love affair between attorney Elizabeth and her boss, Paul ( an astonishingly underplaying Samuel l. Jackson) and an unlikely liaison between crusty Karen and sensitive co-worker Paco (an overweight, lovable Jimmy Smitts). While all these shenanigans might smack of the soap opera, the pace of the film is so languid as to allow the reality of the proceedings to grasp on to the imagination for total acceptance.
The question of the causes and effects of adoption underpins the plot but with a proportion of pain that may be unreal. No matter, the results have an authentic feel, as does the superb acting.
No illusion, this mother and child reunion is only a motion picture away.
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