Pedro Almodovar’s long history of delivering female-led films can add an intriguing look at motherhood with his latest work, Parallel Mothers.
Two women, Janis (Penelope Cruz) and Ana (Milena Smit, coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth. Both are single and became pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along the hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between the two, which by chance develops and complicates, and changes their lives in a decisive way.
Parallel Mothers is truly unique for the film seems to have two movies in itself. One is the tale of the pregnant women and their experiences after giving birth. The second is a tale of the violent history of the Franco regime (1939 to 1975) and the specific connection to Penelope Cruz’ character Janis. The suspense filled take on the pregnancies and the tragic reveals we get highlight Cruz and Smit’s terrific portrayals. Aitana Sanchez Gijon as Ana’s mother and talented theater actress Teresa adds a lot of depth to the younger actress’ take on pregnancy. Cruz’s work off her baby-daddy and archeologist Arturo (played by Israel Elejalde) are filled with a slew of changing emotions that keep the relationship enflamed throughout. Add in the performance of Rossy De Palma as elegant Elena and you have a well-acted film. Pedro as usual has woven the multiple story elements into a rather satisfying complete work.
The cinematography Jose Luis Alcaine is extremely intimate, and the close-up nature of the shots really brings you into the struggles going on by the women in the film. His ability to give a full look at the faces of the ladies mirrors Cruz’ photography profession in that Alcaine captures so much by lingering on the emotion filled eyes and faces. You don’t feel to close but just right as we see the story unfold. But the real treat to Pedro’s film, outside of his witty dialogue, is Alberto Iglesias musical touch. The score is a lovely mixture of dark suspense filled tones and uplifting upbeat sequences that add the real heat of the intimate nature of Alcaine’s cinematic feel. Pedro and his team obviously seem to have things connected.
Granted the look into the tragic murders of Cruz’ grandfather and his cohorts plays more as a second fiddle to the ladies handling of their pregnancy woes. I found myself wishing Pedro had simply made two separate films because story wise both were rich in nature and had merit.
Parallel Mothers is one of the treats so far of 2022, but I do feel it isn’t necessarily Pedro’s grandest work. His attempt to highlight the tragic history of his homeland seems unfilled while he still proves he captures the female struggle better than most filmmakers. If you like Pedro you must check it out and if you are new to the Almodover way of showing love I recommend enjoying this but quickly diving into his previous work as soon as possible. Pedro is a director worthy of your full attention as his catalog is quite remarkable.
Directed by: Pedro Almodovar
Written by: Pedro Almodovar
Selig Rating: 4 Stars
Running Time: 2hr 3min
Horror / Mystery / Thriller
Release: In theaters Today!
Starring: Penelope Cruz, Rossy De Palma, Aitana Sanchez Gijon, Milena Smit, and Israel Elejalde
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.