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Mother and Child (2010)

tomatometer

79

Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 118
Fresh: 93 | Rotten: 25

Though it occasionally veers into unnecessary melodrama, Mother and Child benefits from a stellar cast and writer-director Rodrigo Garcia's finely detailed, bravely unsentimental script.

82

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 33
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 6

Though it occasionally veers into unnecessary melodrama, Mother and Child benefits from a stellar cast and writer-director Rodrigo Garcia's finely detailed, bravely unsentimental script.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 6,604

My Rating

Movie Info

Writer/director Rodrigo Garca (Nine Lives) teams with executive producer Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu to craft this drama highlighting the powerful bond between a mother and her son. It's been years since Karen (Annette Bening) gave her daughter, Elizabeth, up for adoption, and the decision to abandon her child has always haunted her. Upon meeting laid-back Paco (Jimmy Smits), Karen permits her anxiety and mistrust to get the best of her. On the surface it appears that Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) is

R,

Drama

Rodrigo García

Dec 14, 2010

$1.1M

Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (119) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (93) | Rotten (25) | DVD (4)

What keeps the whole thing from toppling into an abyss of unwatchable TV drama histrionics is a pair of dynamite performances from Annette Bening and Naomi Watts.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Obviously, this is emotionally rich ground and Garcia plows it perhaps a bit too heavily.

June 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If Garcia's film never quite catches up with his ambitions for it, well, at least he's trying.

June 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A thoughtful and provocative film about the way we live now.

June 3, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Garcia] lets the picture start to go soft in the middle, and teary melodrama floods in like water from a broken dam.

June 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is well worth seeing for Bening's arresting, unpleasant performance.

May 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For the first time in a very long while, Bening disappears into a character and turns in a performance that isn't about her shamelessly playing to the rafters to grab after Oscar.

April 8, 2012 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

Bening and Watts are good enough to see it through, and it's good to see Jackson actually play his age for once.

January 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Scotsman

It's a highly contrived affair with a barely concealed, deeply conservative Catholic agenda, and it has the ring of a cracked bell calling the righteous to prayer.

January 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Mother and Child reminds us how important the notion of lineage - of finding a discernible path through life that doesn't just begin and end with ourselves - is to our personal identity, and the decisions we make in life.

January 7, 2012 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

Annette Bening gives one of her most enigmatic and painfully frank performances yet that cuts direct to the core.

January 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Real.com

Bening, consistently one of the best US screen actresses, is really the main reason to keep you watching.

January 6, 2012 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Thankfully, the cast raise it above Hallmark standard, especially Jackson with a performance that proves he doesn't have to bring down great vengeance or furious anger to grab your attention.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

There are tears aplenty before the three plot strands are brought - rather too neatly - together.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The producer is Alejandro González Iñárittu, who has directed other karmic-coincidence dramas. This one looks mannered and gimmicky.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

García may have a good movie in him; Iñárritu may have another (he once made Amores Perros). But as collaborators they should be divorced and sent, like their characters, to far-flung corners of the creative planet.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Mother and Child is too dutiful, overly sincere and its impressions are easily washed away.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

There's pleasure and humour to be had in observing these troubled characters (and fine performers) as they navigate intimidating, unfamiliar territory...

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

An excellent ensemble makes the most of a multi-strand female-centred film that drifts very close to melodrama as it explores various aspects of motherhood.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

This film is sure to make all but the hardest-hearted shed tears.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

Emotionally engaging, sharply written and powerfully acted drama that commendably resists some of the expected clichés.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

There's no shortage of talent in this ensemble drama about the bond between mothers and their children.

January 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

[a] well-executed, thoughtful look into the maternal connection and how it can destroy as much as it creates.

August 30, 2011 Full Review Source: The National
The National

An emotional and intensely realistic examination of three women with ties to adoption.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

full review at Movies for the Masses

November 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Audience Reviews for Mother and Child

In Mother and Child there are moments of pure magic and others that are manipulative yet sincere in trying to convey all there is to life, thematically seen through the lens of adoption.

This is yet another of those shotgun series of intertwining stories where seemingly disparate story lines vie for time and attention yet in this case they end up telling more than the stories themselves. Part of this is due to the fine cast that includes SL Jackson, Jimmi Smits, Naomi Watts and in particular Annette Bening, that breathed life into the characters that could otherwise have come off as cardboard cut outs in lesser hands.

Bening is just so good in portraying the prickly 50 something woman who still carries the burden of putting her child up for adoption back when she was 14 - some 37 years ago. She is so tightly wound and yet, as the film progresses she finally finds forgiveness for everything, including herself; a stellar performance where you can see the ice melt in her facial expressions (though I did think that her entire relationship with the easy going Smits was a bit unbelievable - it especially caught me off guard when the ever revolving door of stories told through short scenes came back to Bening to see her wedding day).

I also thought that Watt's character, a driven attorney who wants to be beholden to no-one... perhaps a residue from her being put up for adoption at birth (yep, by Bening), was a strong part and well played, although some of her motivations seemed a bit murky. Her interaction with Jackson sparkled, and Jackson was just so smooth and natural, as if he wasn't acting at all (which can also be said of Smits by the way).

The 3rd story arc here involves a young couple unable to conceive a child, so they decide to adopt. It is this story that, although a bit melodramatic, held my interest by showing the all too prevalent miscommunication between husband and wife, as well as the often misguided desire of some women to want to be mommies. The film was succinct in skewering the woman, showing her overblown temper tantrum when her hoped for adoptee was taken away from her (a fine bit of melodrama, yet scary for the histrionics and wailing "it's MY baby" emphasis on "it's mine", even though, at that point, she had absolutely no bonding with the babe). Shortly thereafter, after receiving another child (in a rather unbelievable set of circumstances), she complains that the bratty child is all take and no give... which allowed her mother to look her square in the eye and tell her to grow up. Clearly the woman was living in that wonderful fantasy land where the allure of having a child is just like that of any other material possession - and when the reality hits her that kids are a ton of hard work, she sees that she was duped by the overwhelming Christian ethic of go forth and propagate. She could only feel good about herself if she was somehow fulfilling that duty, whether by conceiving or adoption - her self worth depended on her being perceived as a mother.

The film of course squandered that good will by taking the last quarter of the film and tying everything into a nice bow of melodramatic happy ending - because, of course, god would not allow his children to suffer (uh huh, here we have a very real set of stories, about real people and real issues and then the film has to go and ruin it by subtly inserting a religious aspect to it all). I must admit that I tend to agree with a portion of what the message is here - life is to be lived, and forgiveness is the key to grace... including forgiving yourself. There is also the message that the past is done, so move on and look forward. This theme resonated for me, as I know someone closely who frequently wallows in an event that, although terrible, happened over 30 years ago - she'd be so much better off to forgive or at least forget, just as Bening's character was so much happier with her own skin and the world around her once she accepted that what was done is indeed done.

In the final analysis, there is a lot of truth in the film, and some of its observations on humanity and human interactions are well said; but by the ending I felt that the intertwining of the stories became just a bit too forced and convenient.
January 30, 2012
maxthesax
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Mother And Child is a beautiful film with a sophisticated but charming story. The film is about more than the relationships between a mother and a child, but also how the interactions between meeting new people can effect the life paths of both individuals.
March 14, 2011
shawnewing92

Super Reviewer

A powerful and emotional film focused on adoption over several generations. Excellent acting, and an intelligent script. Annette Bening is wonderful, as usual.
March 14, 2011
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

    1. Lucy: The truth is easier to remember.
    – Submitted by Tareq J (9 months ago)
    1. Violet: Are you married. You must be, or you wouldn't be hiding out here so often.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Ray: Do you always tell the truth?
    2. Lucy: The truth is easier to remember.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Mütter und Töchter (DE)
  • Mother & Child (FR)
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