Parallel Mothers – Five Star Film

Parallel mothers/Parallel mothersWritten and directed by Pedro Almodovar, it has been showing in Romanian cinemas since April 1. The film was first presented internationally at the opening of the 2021 Venice Film Festival, and was critically acclaimed. Penelope Cruz won the prestigious Volpa Coppa Award for Best Actress and won an Oscar nomination in 2022 for her role as Janice.

Parallel mothers It is a melodrama in the style of the famous Almodóvar, but only this time its extravagance and baroque style is toned down, leaving more room for feelings, psychological play and reflexivity.

Janice (Penelope Cruz) is a good photographer who also takes an interest in her family’s history. His grandfather was killed during the Civil War and dumped in a mass grave. This mass grave has been identified, but no one has ever been found exhuming the dead. At one of the photo sessions, Janice meets the anthropologist Arturo (Israel Eligaldi) and asks for his help. It is important for her and the families of her village that the date is known, not wiped with a sponge, not silenced, not buried. A love affair between Janice and Arturo (married, has problems, his wife has cancer), at first without a desire to get involved, but everything becomes more complicated with Janice’s pregnancy, and their relationship will experience many ups and downs.

Maternity ward, mothers: Janice, mature, about 40, Anna (Melina Smit, suggestive), frightened teen. Together they learn to breathe and to cope with the pain of labour. After birth, their babies are kept under observation because they have minor problems.

Pedro Almodóvar insists on the relationship between mother and child. Janice and Anna, both single mothers, are dedicated to raising their children. In parallel scenes, we see them taking care of them in daily life who are somehow surrounded by these precious creatures.

At the other end of the spectrum is Anna’s mother, Teresa (Aitana Sanchez Gijon), a middle-aged actress who wants to relaunch her career at least for now, with a role Donna Rosita The Bachelor by Garcia Lorca. She is a beautiful and talented woman, but a bit cold, she does not have a maternal instinct. He goes on tour, leaving his daughter in postpartum depression, only with the woman doing the cleaning. Pedro Almodóvar makes us infer from sights, conversations, gestures and facial expressions how painful family relationships can be.

The movie gets more complicated as the babies change hands in the maternity ward. Janice discovers that she is not the biological mother of her young daughter Cecilia. His reactions range from panic, confusion and despair. He wants to call his lawyer and then change his mind. He changes his phone number, goes down for a while, and doesn’t look for Anna or Arturo, who meanwhile reappear in his life. The camera closely accompanies Janice, becoming her close agent and revealing at the same time, so that the spectator participates in these scenes, with complicity, understanding and great interest.

Of course, the issue of changing children is not new in the field of cinema Like father, like son By Hirokazu Kore-eda was a triumph at Cannes in 2013, but Pedro Almodóvar knows how to take on challenges and give a fresh, fresh and exciting perspective, precisely because he cares not so much about the topic itself but in the tangible reactions of the women in this case. In addition, others were added to this topic, presumed or unequal motherhood, family relationships, love relationships, Spanish history, with Franco’s crimes. A collection of themes that correlate well throughout the film, as the story progresses with gradual discoveries or unexpected leaps.

Thus, Anna returns to the landscape: the opportunity of a meeting in the cafe in the neighborhood of Janis, where Anna gets a job as a waiter. Their relationship becomes one of closeness and support. Anna needs affection, her young daughter, Anita, suddenly died, because she forgot to breathe, Janice, who suspects that Anna, in fact, Cecilia’s real mother, is surrounded by a series of contradictory feelings: she loves Anna, she claims, suggests that she take care of the girl And home, not without it after thinking, she feels guilty, especially after confirming that Anna is Cecilia’s real mother, after an audition. There are very intense scenes between the two women, from cooking together to revealing their family. Thus, we find out that Janice’s mother was a hippie who died at the age of 27, after an overdose, and that her grandmother Cecilia raised her. Anna reveals to him about the ordeal she went through after her parents’ separation, and then the gang rape, the fact that she doesn’t even know who the child’s father is.

Pedro Almodovar offers two ways to deal with the past: ignore it or incorporate it into his life. Anna’s father advises her daughter to forget so that she does not relive those painful scenes. In this case, yes, forgetting has its part in mitigation. But in the case of history, forgetting can become dangerous or could mean betraying the memory of your ancestors. Janice thinks you need to know who your family was, where you came from, to know who you are and how to live your life.

The relationship between the two women eventually becomes a sexual one, but the oppressive secret of changing children does not give Janis peace, and one evening he confesses to Anna that she is Cecilia’s biological mother. Close-up scenes with the two women capture the full range of feelings and reactions. Both actresses are really tall.

After Anna takes her child and goes to her mother’s house, Janice remains disoriented, somehow hung, and widowed by the presence of her loved ones, and is forced to confront her mourning for the little girl who died, Anita. Then he asks for help from Arturo, with whom he begins an open relationship, without hiding. Meanwhile, it was agreed to exhume the bodies from the mass grave in his village. There are so many scenes documenting facts, remembering revealing things, identifying the dead in which we see how history gains voice and faces.

Towards the end, the movie begins to take a less bleak turn. Janice is pregnant again, and Anna decides to resume her friendship with Janice, letting her see Cecilia. Things are stabilizing, and you are entering a normal, quiet life.

The last scene with the villagers going to the common grave, in a silent procession, holding the paintings of their loved ones in their hands, with the reconstruction of the sites where these people died, is very moving. The music of Alberto Iglesias, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score, is highly suggestive, expressing sadness, but also human warmth. In fact, in many of the film’s scenes, music is an influencing factor in moods and situations.

In the end, Almodóvar puts a phrase on the black screen like one from Uruguayan journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano: Human history refuses to be silent.”

The film, in addition to the components of melodrama, as well as the mixture of the aforementioned themes, has psychological accuracy, good gradation of events, intensity of scenes, great acting gameplay, excellent picture, effective and great sensitivity. (Jose Luis Alkin knows how to manipulate frames, how to change angles and pay attention to the nuances of feelings), and all this earned him the appreciation of many critics. Peter Bradshaw from Watchman Even gave it five stars. And I can’t help but mention the shooting sets and the places selected for filming, which also contribute to the success of the film.

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