Parallel Mothers Review | Movie

Two single women, middle-aged Janis (Penélope Cruz) and teenage Ana (Milena Smit), meet at the hospital and befriend each other over similar situations. As they leave with their babies, their lives are about to become intertwined in increasingly complex and challenging ways.

Parallel mothers is a magic trick courtesy of Pedro Almodóvar. Built on a potentially far-fetched premise – two women giving birth in hospital at the same time – it is the synthesis of his early funny works and later more sober ones, both a comedy full of twists and revelations that unravel. are accumulating at breakneck speed, and a serious and emotionally grounded look at maternal ties and family appeal. If it’s not quite a top-notch soundtrack, it’s built with both brilliance and precision and, in their eighth film together, comes across as a fantastic showcase for the Pedro Almodóvar-Penélope Cruz dream team.

Cruz is Janis (named after Janis Joplin), a high-end photographer whom we meet photographing forensic anthropologist Arturo (Israel Elejalde). Janis asks for Arturo’s help in digging up the mass grave where her grandfather’s body was buried after he was executed by the Falangists at the start of the Spanish Civil War. At this point, it looks like we’re going to have Pedro The Mature of Juliet and pain and glory, delivering a coruscating look at how the horrors of Franco’s Spain unfold in the present. But then Pedro The Cheeky grabs and Parallel mothers becomes something else: soap opera-infused frolic. Janis has quick, breathless sex with Arturo and, revealed by a daring leap across acres of exposure, finds herself in the hospital pregnant with his child. She shares a room — obviously Almodóvar manages to pop the colors in a sterile maternity ward — with teenage mother Ana (Milena Smit, terrific). The two women quickly become friends and decide to exchange numbers.

For Almodóvar devotees, all tics and touchstones are present and correct.

Revealing what happens next is sucking the fun out of Almodóvar’s deceptively lighthearted film – suffice it to say that the new mothers begin to bond as their lives begin to intertwine in increasingly extreme and complicated. For Almodóvar devotees, all the tics and touchstones are present and correct: a celebration of women’s strengths and sufferings; a gripping Hitchcockian score by Alberto Iglesias; flawless filmmaking (witness the care and attention given to a close-up of a computer mouse) and the welcome return of director mainstay Rossy de Palma, playing Janis’ agent and confidante. But the crown jewel is the Almodóvar-Cruz collaboration. Cruz grounds the potentially ridiculous storylines with empathy and sentiment so that whichever direction the movie goes, you go with it. Playing a woman holding a secret that she hastens to reveal, she is captivating.

The film’s grip loosens a little in its middle part but, as it enters the final third, Almodóvar, still among the most nimble filmmakers, spirals back into the undertow of the Spanish Civil War, the unmarked grave of the Janis family replacing the litany of atrocities committed by the Franco regime. The director’s conclusion is typical: a group of women, united, drawing their strength from the memory of their ancestors.

Almodóvar juggles comedy and drama to terrifically entertaining ends, aided by a cutting-edge Penélope Cruz. It’s hard to think of a more exciting actor-director partnership that works today.

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