on 1 March 2012
The stories of several mothers are interwoven in this drama about motherhood: The longing to become a mother; the pains of motherhood; the heart-wrenching suffering of those who wish to evade motherhood. It is a sad story. The joy of motherhood hardly features in this film. It is about women. They dominate the film. Men play a secondary, most of the time flat and unassuming role. Men can be thoughtful, kind and sensitive, but they have nothing to say in motherhood. This film is about the hard, lonely world of mothers.
Karen (Annette Bening) gave birth to her only child when she was fourteen and gave her up for adoption. This momentous event ruined her life. Consumed by guilt, she was unable to establish any meaningful relationships with men. She lived with her mother until her mother died but both women did not really open themselves for one another. Karen knows she is "difficult": judgmental, stubborn, opinionated, uncompromising, determined, strong-willed, and very lonely. Although her daughter plays very important part in her life, Karen never tried to look for her.
Everything changes when Paco (Jimmy Smits) enters her life. It was not easy for him to penetrate the stubborn-sturdy walls that Karen erected around herself but he finds a way, to Karen's surprise. "Where did you come from?" she asks him. Karen's opened to Paco's abundant kindness, and quickly marries him. Paco "leads his way" to persuade her to look for her daughter, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) had a very difficult life. From a very young age, she had to live alone and to force herself into the world. Ambitious, unflinching, smart, selfish with many qualities of her mother (judgmental, stubborn, opinionated, uncompromising, determined, strong-willed) she leads a lonely life in which she finds satisfaction. Happiness would be a big word to describe her condition and constant mood. She moves in and out of cities for unclear reasons but we can guess these constant moves were due to her difficult personality and the way she treats others, especially men: Use, play with and throw. Men are attracted to her like flies to light. Incapable of loving anyone, including herself, people are for her mere means to an end. Stubborn and fearful like her mother, Elizabeth never tried to look for her roots until she becomes pregnant at the age of 37. At about the same time, not knowing of one another, both Karen and Elizabeth deposit letters for each other in the adoption offices.
The third story is about Lucy (Kerry Washington) who is unable to conceive. To satisfy her husband's yearning for a child, she turns to adoption to make the family they desire. Joseph, her husband, encapsulates the role of men in this film: he hardly speaks, with a flat personality and simple desires. Lucy does not really need him. Indeed, the road to adoption is especially difficult for Lucy but once she is able to have a child, she fails to understand that motherhood is indeed "all about her": her child's wishes, her milk, her sleep, her quality time. Lucy's mother has to open her eyes to tell her that she is not special. Yes, this is motherhood (parenthood).
The film is built around two wonderful actresses: Naomi Watts and Annette Bening. Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits and Samuel L. Jackson are in the supporting roles. It is very dense and very sad. There are no moments of comic relief and only seldom we see the magical, beautiful, happy moments of parenthood. There is only one striking episode of family life, to which Elizabeth enters quite astonished as she never experienced such a playful gathering in her own life. The movie, in many respects, is one sided as it highlights the pains of motherhood, not the joys, and it is about motherhood, not parenthood. The three main stories are about broken families. For many of us, luckily life is far more complex, with many shades of grey and pink, not only grey. Yet the film is captivating, moving, complex and beautifully-done.
Four stars in Rafi's scale.
on 21 June 2012
i was on a journey from the carribean when i watched this film on the flight,then there was turbulence,and i did't see the rest,went into hmv and others,no one had it ...american,then a year later amazon had it,well what can i say,a really good film slow but rewarding,an interesting twist,with a thought proviking ending
on 4 April 2012
Well, what can I say about this film...? I saw it at out local indie cinema and was just immersed in it. I think it is a beautiful film. Thought provoking, sad but I have to say there are some very funny moments in it too.
Truly one of the best if not THE best film I have seen in a very very long time. Watching it I wanted it to just keep going and going although I realised the film ran to a very natural ending and I felt involved with all the characters and their stories from beginning to end.
I have to stress that I am a fan of all films as long as they are made well. I love horror but also love the Toy Story's, Mary Poppins, Mrs Doubtfire, When Harry Met Sally, Amelie, Shawshank. A good film is a good film regardless of genre and this is a GREAT FANTASTIC film. A scary film should scare the daylights out of you, a happy film make you smile etc etc and I cried several times throughout this film and was a blubbering wreck by the end.
DO ME A FAVOUR AND JUST BUY THIS FILM. Watch it and your life will be made better even if it's just by a little bit. 5 stars