75. Mother and Child (2009)

Where would we be without our mothers?

7/10
Directed by: Rodrigo García
Written by: Rodrigo García
Starring: Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Kerry Washington

Quality family time minus any real family members

They say a mother’s presence is an integral part of a child’s development into adulthood. At least for Rodrigo Garcia’s Mother and Child, this idea rings loud and true in the interconnected stories of women who live with their mother, want to be a mother, are going to be mothers, have strange relationships with their mothers … or all of the above.

It all starts with crummy birth control for Karen (Bening), who has lived unhappily with her mother since her teen pregnancy, having to give away her daughter to adoption but not letting a second slip by without thinking about her. The daughter in question, Elizabeth (Watts), is also affected by her mother’s absence as she maintains a sense of power and control in her life through promiscuous behaviour. As the two struggle with their desire to find each other, or even re-establish a sense of family and love in their lonely lives, the role of Lucy (Washington) – a woman seeking to adopt a child – becomes a significant tie in helping them find each other.

While the words ‘mother’, ‘child’, ‘birth’ and ‘womanly love’ will drive away most men, Mother and Child looks at important issues and experiences of women in a way that most films refuse to, or fail to do. With a deep sense of detail in the emotional pushes and pulls that come with the relationship between a daughter and a mother, Mother and Child expresses such dramatic relationships through cleverly interwoven stories that meet at the ending in a rather satisfying manner. It could have been interesting to see the relationship between a mother and her son (considering this film IS called Mother and Child – no gender specificity since Mother and Daughter would guarantee a serious lack of male audience members), but the film seems committed to exploring a female perspective. As a result, the film’s concentration on the female characters feels a little dragged out from time to time. But rather than taking the easier and more tempting road of cliche corniness, Mother and Child looks at women’s issues and mother-daughter relationships through complex characters that are wonderfully portrayed by the female cast, and a well-structured plot that works, despite its slower pace.

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