Mother and Child

2010

Mother and Child

Critics Consensus

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.

78%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 127

76%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,947
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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 none the worse for never knowing her biological mother; she's a fast-talking lawyer who's just landed a high-profile job at a firm fronted by Paul (Samuel L. Jackson), though her unsavory penchant for exploiting others is about to blow up in her face. Meanwhile, maternal-minded baker Lucy (Kerry Washington) longs to experience the joys of motherhood, eventually deciding that adoption is the best bet to start a family with her husband, Joseph (David Ramsey). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Cast

Naomi Watts
as Elizabeth
Amy Brenneman
as Dr. Eleanor Stone
Alexandria Salling
as Karen (Age 14)
Kay D'Arcy
as Karen's Hydrotherapy Patient
Connor Kramme
as Tom (Age 14)
Bradford Alex
as Physical Therapist
Cherry Jones
as Sister Joanne
Sean Scarborough
as Maria's Husband
Ahmed Best
as Julian
Brenda Ball
as Paul's Niece
Veronica Welch
as Paul's Sister
Gabrielle Abitol
as Adoption Agency Worker
Karen Graci
as Ray's Nurse
Eugene Collier
as Hospital Security Guard
Evette Cord
as Adoption Agency Lawyer
Juliette Amara
as Ella (Age 2)
Susan Nimoy
as Rebecca
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Critic Reviews for Mother and Child

All Critics (127) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (99) | Rotten (28)

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

    Jan 6, 2012 | Rating: 3/5
  • The producer is Alejandro González Iñárittu, who has directed other karmic-coincidence dramas. This one looks mannered and gimmicky.

    Jan 5, 2012 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Mother and Child is too dutiful, overly sincere and its impressions are easily washed away.

    Jan 5, 2012 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 4, 2012 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Mother and Child is a compassionate, multi-threaded tale about the lives of everyday women -- though this time, they are more explicitly defined by the primal bond of the title.

    Jul 7, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Obviously, this is emotionally rich ground and Garcia plows it perhaps a bit too heavily.

    Jun 4, 2010 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mother and Child

  • Jun 17, 2013
    - A woman that demands too much from others, expecting positive emotional responses from people as long as these responses are born in their hearts without previous request. Such expectations create a world of fear around her, with people ending up scared to create an emotional attachment with her of any kind. - A woman that tries to outdo her emotional abandonment, substituting it with a self-created independence, until realizing that complete independence from people is not something that exists in this world. We are not alone, and our actions, thoughts and words have an impact of variable magnitude on the direct or indirect receiver. - A woman that is willing to assume responsibilities of greater magnitude than her own perceptions and beliefs, until such circumstances come and make her question her true value as a person and, most importantly, as a <b>woman</b>. The stamps of American Beauty and Iñárritu are present throughout. Those are good qualities. No matter how many films we remember being about "the same", they will never stop being good because the high relevance of these topics is permanent. However, in order to state a message as true as "it's the time spent together that counts, more than blood. Time counts the most.", high directorial expertise is required to out-stand among your genre, García. Keep trying; you are on a good path. 67/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2012
    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.
    paul s Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2011
    Only saw the second part of this, but each of the leading ladies did a great job and the story and writing was solid. I hope to watch this all the way through one day.
    Jameson W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 05, 2011
    Some bonds are so strong that when broken the individuals previously connected can no longer function properly. Mother and child explore the mother and child bond and the effects it has on a woman desperately needing to be a mom and also a woman and her daughter separated at birth. The performances are pitch perfect from Bening, Watts and the remainder of the cast.
    Nicolas K Super Reviewer

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