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Film Review: Parallel Mothers Beautifully Told and Sensitively Filmed

Director Pedro Almodovar at the AFI Fest 2021 premiere of Parallel Mothers. Photo/Getty Images

Parallel Mothers (123 min) is now streaming on GooglePlay, Apple+, Neon, AroVision.
In Spanish, with subtitles
Directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Parallel mothers is beautifully told and filmed with sensitivity.

Penelope Cruz won Best Actress for her role as Janis at the Venice Film Festival last September and Variety says it’s Almodóvar’s best film since. all about my mother (1999).

Considering all these accolades, it’s surprising that it was only briefly in select New Zealand cinemas and that Netflix bought the exclusive rights to it, but only for Latin America. Fortunately, it is available on four other streaming platforms in Aotearoa.

Janis, a professional photographer, is nearly 40 when she has a baby, the result of an affair with one of her subjects, Arturo (Israel Elejalde), a famous forensic archaeologist, who may be about to discover what happened to Janis’ family. there are generations in the hands of Franco.

Almodóvar used an interesting cinematic technique for Janis as a photographer, showing through Janis’ lens full-screen portraits of Arturo that reveal a lot about him, as well as Janis.

Later, when Janis is busy taking care of baby Anita and struggling to get glamorous work like taking pictures of famous archaeologists, she agrees to work photographing shoes and bags, deftly adjusting to her situation. She has to do a lot of adapting as the story unfolds.

Through Janis’ other lens, her personal lens, we see her get pissed off when Arturo, on the fringes of his life, playing no parenting role, comments that 1-year-old Anita isn’t like any of them. Without flashbacks, just with the smooth layering of plot, we explore with Janis the possibility that when her baby was taken away with another newborn for observation, the wrong babies were returned.

In the motherhood alongside Janis, we saw a teenage mother, Ana (Milena Smit), shyly begin to mother her own baby, Cecilia, alone. We only find out near the end of the film the circumstances that led to Ana’s pregnancy, but we find out how the people responsible for raising Ana never connected with her.

Her own mother, Teresa (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), prefers to lean on her off-screen ex-husband to support Ana financially, while clinging to her acting career and ignoring her needs for love and support. of his daughter.

After Janis figures out what likely happened to babies Anita and Cecilia at birth, she reconnects with Ana. Despite the age gap, the two women bond after sharing their experiences of being disconnected from their own mother. Surprising layers of plot are revealed.

Funding is finally approved for the discovery of Janis’ family graves, Arturo returns to the scene to take matters into his own hands and soon Janis, Ana and Arturo are bonded by deeply touching secrets, both current and historical, that need to be told. .

The film shows how life events can transform us into different versions of ourselves. Its twists are tense and captivating, its messages haunting. Highly recommended.

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