Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Mother and Child" (2010) - Movie Review

Rodrigo Garcia’s “Mother and Child” has women who are difficult, annoying, selfish and unarguably aggressive inside and out. And then they blossom and transform through the life they gave out and how it makes them into completely different beings by the that role and the responsibilities that comes along with it. The great fear, happiness and joy of a being growing inside of you and how it becomes something of their own cannot be even imagined. Garcia’s perspective is more on how flawed they can be and how reviving and redeeming that relationship provides for opportunities missed and grabbed by the pits and bumps of accidental life.

Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington synchronize this relationship on angles that gets vandalized effortlessly by cliches and emotional cheesecakes in conventional films. Not here and not in the beautiful direction of Rodrigo Garcia who not alone provided excellent nine vignettes on women in “Nine Lives” but adapting the Israeli television series “Be Tipul” to American “In Treatment” with finesse detail on the human conditions up close, personal and threatening to yourself. Here he stretches out a bit from his short story approach and goes for a full length feature. He recruits best talents in the business to do that and cannot be more successful that this. You would also realize that Garcia purposefully makes this a mother and daughter bond than a mother and son as there cannot be more fitting full circle of life without the cycle of motherhood being passed on.

Annette Bening plays Karen a middle aged woman haunted by her teenage experience. She got pregnant at 14 and gave up her baby for adoption. Now on the road to be a spinster Karen is taking care of her mother. Their relationship has a tone and you would see why Karen is so bitter and downright rude. Karen’s baby girl is Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) a very successful lawyer laughing at the face of the society composed of family bonds. She is cut throat, exactly knows what she wants and makes all necessary nuances in discarding meaningful human relationship. You would also see why she is bitter and rude. Then there is Lucy (Kerry Washington) unable to bear a child with her husband Joseph (David Ramsey) goes for adoption and is brutally interviewed by a 20 year old Ray (Shareeka Epps). Lucy’s mother is Ada (S. Epatha Merkerson) who provides her touch of her own in giving that look and sighs to her daughter’s decisions and dilemmas.

You will see how they are connected beyond the obvious. You will also see how Rodrigo Garcia has a purpose for every actors. Each one of them even in their sparse screen presence is there to provide a view point on these women. Karen meets a very kind man Paco (Jimmy S mits) and she manages to stupendously piss off even him. And then Karen’s silence in her house goes one step down when her mother dies. Her mother was closer to her caretaker Sofia (Elpidio Carrillo) and her kid (Simone Lopez) whom Karen dislikes due to the ugly reminder of her loss. Annette Bening plays this woman and boy do we dislike her with a passion. Despite her struggle and pain we could not come to embrace her soul and we slowly begin to respect her when she admits to Paco how difficult she is. Then she blooms into a different person under the care of this noble and respecting man Paco. When the dusts settle in her dry life to spring happiness, she is reminded in one of many wonderful scenes that may be she has to look for her kid.

Naomi Watts is deadly in this role. We are introduced to her Elizabeth as she interviews with Paul (Samuel L. Jackson) and she is an open book with definite paper cuts to slash your hearts. Paul likes her and Elizabeth likes him in her own bossy distant manner. Both begin an affair and even in her seduction she conducts it like an exercise with a goal in her mind. Her neighbours are a lovely couple Tracy (Carla Gallo) and Steven (Marc Blucas). Tracy wants to befriend her neighbour which only results in Elizabeth seducing Steven. She is unabashedly cruel towards this system of family and the disappointments it presents. She becomes a tool to prove her point even if it means destroying a family. Paul surprises her in an unexpected way but the real surprise comes when she learns she is pregnant. She visits the doctor’s office where there is a tense and bitter scene with Amy Brenneman as her doctor.

Lucy played by Kerry Washington is the one which stands out of this story but soon finds its way. Lucy desperately wants to be a mother and is constantly challenged by her mother. She sticks to the goal and goes through with her hesitant husband. There is an opportunity for them in this 20 year old Ray so sharp and cuts through the crap for such a young age. She might grow up to be Elizabeth unless her mother Leticia (Lisa Gay Hamilton) has a say in it. Lucy’s adoption guide is Sister Joanne (Cherry Jones) who is also involved in helping Karen find her daughter Elizabeth. She becomes a witness to this whole story which has its crazy ups and downs. I feel sorry for her.

Garcia is a master of studying women or he makes us think so presenting them in such flawed and blatant manner. They are full of complications and full of surprises but are undeniably the single most force that can bring every one together in the most unexpected situations. That makes them the gold mine for dramatic subjects Garcia undertakes though Garcia is the only one who seems to have the knack and precision to give them unrelentingly in their honest form. “Mother and Child” is full of great performances and you would not notice it as they blend like a smooth ice cream in this perfectly put together film. There are several other small performances which makes up this beautiful film. You can always read or learn about the emotional bond between a mother and child but “Mother and Child” lets you absorb it revealing their mistakes and moments of greatness.

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