Parallel Mothers

Parallel Mothers
Date: 14/06/2022 Times: 7:30 pm - 9:35 pm

Penélope Cruz was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in this film, which is her seventh for the director Pedro Almodóvar. He was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Foreign Film. Part tear-stained Technicolor melodrama and part furious cultural excavation, Parallel Mothers rests somewhere near the mid- to upper-tier of Peak Almodóvar. This is rock-solid cinema that will give you renewed life. It is all the more impressive given that it arrives from a filmmaker who, nearly five decades in the game, remains at the height of his powers. Indeed, there is a sense of career-long catharsis watching Parallel Mothers, as if the filmmaker has been patiently waiting to tell this particular story since he first picked up a camera.

Certainly, there are familiar Almodóvar-isms: desperate women, twists of fate, and an unceasing fascination with mothers. But for the first time in the director’s filmography, Almodóvar is directly confronting the chaos of the Spanish Civil War, and the shadow it continues to cast over his country’s psyche. As the title implies, Parallel Mothers tells two tales concurrently. The first involves photographer Janis (Penélope Cruz), who befriends the teenage Ana (Milena Smit) in the hospital while they both await the deliveries of their first-borns. Years later, Janis and Ana reconnect, but only after tragedy has struck both women.

While this drama, tinged with elements of both black comedy and psycho-sexual thriller, plays out, Almodóvar keeps returning to Janis’s long-held quest to unearth the remains of her great-grandfather, who was “disappeared” by Franco-affiliated rebels. Eventually, a story about motherhood becomes a story about cultural memory, with Almodóvar gleefully but respectfully mixing the themes together until they coalesce into one singular treatise on the responsibility we have to recognize, and never forget, our own mistakes.

Cruz goes beyond typical excellence. As Janis confronts traumas both contemporary and historical, the actress must portray both victim and crusader, all without falling to pieces. It is a remarkable performance that should live in the hall of Almodóvar’s many great women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Relative newcomer Smit, meanwhile, acquits herself well as the fragile Ana, especially given that she must face off against a cadre of Almodóvar’s favourite actresses (not only Cruz, but also regulars Rossy de Palma and Julieta Serrano).

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Parallel Mothers

Year: 2021

Country: Spain

Cert: 15

Duration: 123 mins

Dir: Pedro Almdóvar

'Guaranteed to delight Almodóvar devotees'


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Venue: William Loveless Hall