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Film Review: Mother and Child

November 13, 2010

Sometimes the most natural and simple things in life, the things that we take for granted are the most challenging  and it’s for that reason that I fell in love with this film. I, like most others around me have a tendency to seek adventure, chaos and ‘life lessons’ far, far away from the daily grind. We ‘find ourselves’ in yoga, meditation or philosophy rather than in caring and nurturing our close relationships. And while there is nothing wrong with doing any of these things, I think that we have a tendency to commoditize some of lifes magic while celebrating the transient and ‘frilly bits’  IN the middle of all that, this film – Mother and Child brings us down to earth and a heady mix of  heartbreak, joy, sadness and hope.  The message?  Motherhood – it’s complex but it makes sense (and it pays to note that one does not have to ‘give birth’  to or even ‘mother’ a child full-time to feel it.

The film centres around the stories of three women who are grappling with life and the things it has thrown up. The  first is fifty year old Karen played to perfection by Anette Benning. She is a difficult woman who is struggling with the pressure of looking after her elderly mother while dealing with the depression and loss she feels over giving up her baby daughter for adoption when she was just 14 years old.  The second, Elizabeth played by Naomi   Watts is a secretive and emotionally fragile individual who manages her emotional scars by being over-controlling, dominating and distant. Elizabeth is a successful lawyer who’s veneer starts to crack when she starts an affair with her new boss. The third woman Lucy is a sweet and honest woman who is  played by Kerry Washington. Her inability to conceive a child naturally dealt a crushing blow to her marriage and while going through adoption proceedings her relationship breaks down leaving her to navigate the  emotional minefield that is adoption.

The film was challenging and beautiful because the viewer is given permission to watch each woman confront and deal with their  emotional and practical challenges. It feels like we are  watching raindrops falling down a window pane of glass. We watch as  each one gathers in pace and  strength before it reaches its destiny in  the gushing body of water at the bottom. The film is deep enough to get you hooked yet light enough to flow and entertain, allowing the viewer to befriend each woman, take her hand and support her on her journey.

All too often motherhood and indeed parenthood is taken for granted, commoditized or seen as a right rather than a privilege.  These three women show in three very different ways how complex, unique and life-stearing parenthood really is and remind us that in the ‘parenting game’  it is quality time spent together that matters……. TIME.

I recommend watching this quietly with a box of tissues and a nice cup of tea and won’t spoil it by telling you too much more.

The film was launched in Australia in June 2010, was  written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia. It is available to rent now  oh and we can’t forget to mention the excellent role that the men play – Samuel L Jackson, David Ramsay and Jimmy Smits. You can see what Australian film reviewers Margaret and David think here.

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