Film Review: MOTHER AND CHILD

Directed and Written by: Rodrigo Garcia
Starring: Annette Benning, Naomi Watts, Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits, Samuel Jackson, Cherry Jones
Running Time 121 minutes
Release: May 2010

Sometimes a movie is greater than its parts. In this case, the parts were greater than the whole. Or at least the acting made it seem that way. And to some extent, the characters overwhelmed their own stories. It is not often that a movie features three prickly women that you grow to like. These difficult women were played with great skill by Benning, Watts and Washington. The men were far less fleshed out and a bit too noble or caddish without much explanation. But it was a movie about women as the title suggests .

PLOT: Karen (Benning), a physical therapist by profession and caring for her mother at home, gave a baby away at age fourteen. This event has ruined her life. She is mistrustful and expects the worse, which she often gets. She takes care of others better than she takes care of herself. Lucy (Washington) is married and infertile. She and her husband are looking for a baby to adopt and think they have found one. Elisabeth (Watts) is a heedlessly promiscuous lawyer. An adoptee, she has never bonded with anyone and leaves men before they can leave her.

These three stories are brought to a head and brought together through the auspices of a nun (Cherry Jones) at an adoption agency. Jones also gives a wonderful, warm, ego-less performance. Other fine female actresses fill out the supporting cast—as mothers who long and often fail to connect with their children. The dialog never seems designed to just move the story along but rather to illuminate the characters. I have seen several underpopulated movies lately. This one does not suffer from that.

So why is there a “but” in all this? I think because Mother and Child is tied up too neatly at the end. And because despite the fact it’s a movie about women, those women deserve more well-rounded male characters—not just props for the story. Still, you could do far worse than seeing this one.

Patti
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at http://www.pattinase.blogspot.com/. She hopes you’ll join in.