Mother and Child Reviews

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maxthesax
Super Reviewer
½ January 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.
jamers2011
Super Reviewer
½ November 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.
Super Reviewer
March 14, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
March 14, 2011
A powerful and emotional film focused on adoption over several generations. Excellent acting, and an intelligent script. Annette Bening is wonderful, as usual.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2010
García made a really powerful drama here, quite emotional and sincere. A wonderful story about regrets and how some choices we make in our lives define our paths, and it presents a fantastic cast, especially Annette Bening and Naomi Watts, who are simply outstanding.
stevenecarrier
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2010
Rodrigo Garcia's "Mother and Child" is an incredible and emotionally epic film. We didn't need any more proof that Annette Bening and Naomi Watts were two of the best actresses in their age groups, but this film cements the deal. Bening (with her searing turn in this film as well as "The Kids Are All Right") and Watts (completing her 2010 hat trick with "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and "Fair Game") are so compelling and affecting. Kerry Washington also delivers fine work here, completing the trio of women whose lives have been affected for generations by adoption. Garcia's writing is poignant and far reaching. He has an amazing command over this three leads, the story, it's progression- both narratively and fated, and his many supporting players (most notably Samuel L. Jackson and Jimmy Smits). "Mother and Child" is a film that reminds us how affecting a symbolic, well told and meaningful story can be. How well written characters experiencing real emotion are the truest of special effects. "Mother and Child" is an outstanding motion picture.
neverteaseaweasel
Super Reviewer
December 5, 2009
I didn't like the first half of this movie that much while watching it. It seemed dull, and I'll be damned if I care about these obnoxious, lonely, foul people. The characters grew on me, but they still are never going to find a place among my favorites and this is not a world that I would ever like to revisit. Annette Bening is great, but nobody else really stood out to me. One other thing that personally kind of irked me, was how much importance was placed on family, like strictly blood ties. I mean, not to sound crass, but do they really matter all that much? I don't think so, at least not in the ideological way presented here. The film is long and it feels even longer, but that's what makes it work. The film reaches its climax about halfway through the run time. If the ending was rushed, it would feel really contrived and cliched. The time turns it into something very sweet and tragic. In the end, it's still pretentious crap; but rather human and moving pretentious crap none the less.
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2010
Directed by Rodrigo García (son of revered writer Gabriel García Márquez) and produced by Alejandro González Iñarritu (whose influence is evident in this film), Mother and Child explores concepts of race, adoption and, most importantly, the importance of a mother. It only helps that García is Colombian, a culture (like all Latin-American cultures) that deeply values the role a mother plays in the family dynamic.

During their introduction, the actions by García's female characters are inexplicable. If Karen (Annette Bening) likes Paco (Jimmy Smits), why does she keep pushing him away with her obnoxious comments? Or, why does Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) get mad when her boss invites her to an intimate dinner, only to then come on to him aggressively? On top of that, it seemed like the film's writer/director was making an effort to make his characters unlikeable. At one point, I even asked myself: "why is everybody a bitch in this movie"?

But to see this characters evolve, influenced in different ways by motherhood, is a delight. The interconnected stories in this film, woven together beautifully by García, are very moving and I felt them as if they were mine in a way I can't even explain. Also, this is one of those movies where truly every actor in every part is outstanding. Naomi Watts, a terrific actress who definitely deserves more recognition, is incredible as sexually dominant Elizabeth. Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Shareeka Epps and many more turn in some great work.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2010
Mother and Child is a well-written, emotionally-layered drama about (you guessed it) mothers and children. There are several interconnected stories, some major and some minor, that come at the topic from several points of view. Adoption is a major part of the movie (from a variety of different angles, including a regretful mother, an adult woman who never knew the woman who gave her up, a couple who desires to adopt, and a young woman who is looking for the right parents to give her child to). So is the way that mothers continue to influence their children (in good or bad ways) after they're grown, and even in their absence.

The cast is absolutely great, and was the main thing that attracted me to this film. Naomi Watts is excellent as usual, and her character is probably the one of the main three that has the biggest arc and largest focus in the story. Annette Bening plays the the second of the "main" characters, and I honestly think her acting here was better than her critically acclaimed role in The Kids Are All Right. Kerry Washington is the other primary female character in the movie, and she also does a great job. Her role was probably the most emotionally tumultuous in the film, and she pulled it off very well.

Those three ladies are joined by a fine cast of supporting actors, including Samuel L. Jackson (in a rare understated role), David Ramsey, Tatyana Ali (where have you been you gorgeous woman?), Jimmy Smits, Carla Gallo, and many others. Great acting all- around, and each person gets to contribute without seeming like a superfluous cameo or pushing the running-time to an excessive length.

I realize that I haven't given a lot of story details, but the plot is fairly complex and a lot of the enjoyment of the movie comes from watching the emotional rollercoasters that some of the characters go through. Mother and Child is sad in some places, but manages to end on a happy note that feels genuine and doesn't come off as sappy in the least. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good drama.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2010
"Mother and Child" is a unique examination of the difficult yet also miraculous phenomenon of adoption. Writer/ director Rodrigo Garcia, who mostly works in television (and who is the son of novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, incidentally), is very talented, but he weakens the film by relentlessly giving it a TV feel, particularly mawkish dramedies like "Brothers and Sisters."

Happily, the stellar cast led by Annette Bening and Naomi Watts, two of the most extraordinary screen actresses of our time, lift every scene above the atrocious TV style that Garcia keeps injecting. I wish that Garcia had turned over the direction to Ms. Bening. Then maybe "Mother and Child" would be a more completely fulfilling cinematic experience. But even with Garcia's gross style, the core material of "Mother and Child" is very good, and it is still is one of the best films of 2010. --unfinished--
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2010
Emotionally charged drama features 3 stories of different women and the subject of adoption, the common thread that unites their experiences. An absolute powerhouse in the acting department: Kerry Washington, Annette Bening, and Naomi Watts are uniformly brilliant. Many scenes rely on nothing but the actor and their words. Simply the way someone sits or the length of pause before speaking, complements the scene just as much as what is actually being said. Colombian-born writer and director Rodrigo García gives a surprisingly credible voice to these complicated women. They can be downright unpleasant at times, but that's human and sincere and what makes this ensemble piece so affecting. Serious-minded drama is adult in every sense of the word, but viewers that crave a raw and deeply moving experience, will be not be disappointed.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2010
In "Mother and Child," Karen(Annette Bening) is a 51-year old physical therapist who cares for her invalid mother(Eileen Ryan). At work, she has become the focus of Paco(Jimmy Smits), a new co-worker. She would be happy if she knew the daughter, Elizabeth(Naomi Watts), she gave up for adoption when she was 14, is doing very well for herself. She is a successful lawyer who has just been hired by Paul(Samuel L. Jackson, dialing it down several hundred notches). Meanwhile, Lucy(Kerry Washington) and Joseph(David Ramsey) are themselves looking to adopt, unable to conceive themselves probably because of lengthy phone messages left during the act. Hope arrives in the person of Ray(Shareeka Epps), a 20 year old college student and six months pregnant.

"Mother and Child" starts exceedingly well, being performed well by an excellent cast, and taking a large chance on the audience sympathizing with two characters with the genetic predisposition to being prickly. But about the halfway point, the movie suffers a paradigm shift towards the sentimental, as the pace starts to drag with an especially contrived ending.

That tone shift interferes with the movie's otherwise thoughtful examination of adoption from both sides, with the maudlin emphasis now on the bonds between mother and child which it emotionally sees as unbreakable. There may be practical reasons to give up a child, as I get a sense that most adopted children may come from teenaged mothers who may not yet be ready(admittedly, some people are never mature enough to be parents, now matter how old they are). And there is nothing to think Karen would have been able to handle the responsibilities at 14. No matter, the movie gets it right when it points out that family does not necessarily have to be biological.
Super Reviewer
½ April 19, 2010
A you-never-know-what's-coming-next (melo)dama about mothers, daughters and adoption, this movie notable because it's hard to pin down. There are huge, soapy twists at the most unexpected moments, and often the things that don't work are as moving as the things that do. This is due largely to the exquisite ensemble, lending credible heartfelt humanity to even the most belief-challenging moments. In the end, it may have one too many crossroads moments, one too many coincidences, to be completely believed, but that doesn't stop it from touching even the most untouchable moviegoer.
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2010
Wow! A nice surprise. So you mean to say that Annette Benning was better in The Kids Are Alright? This should have been the Oscar nominated film. Naomi Watts plays a tremendous character as well.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 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.
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2011
Nice quaint insight into the world of adoption. I enjoyed the subtlety of the different plots and the down-to-earth acting from all parties involved, especially Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington. The twists at the end were unexpected and well worth the journey.
DrStrangeblog
Super Reviewer
April 1, 2011
This caught me by surprise, I tuned in because I saw that Naomi Watts was in it and found myself engrossed in a moving and mature film that could cast the term 'chick flick' in an entirely new, positive light. Asks questions seldom explored in the movies regarding the nature of family and the bonds and responsibilities of motherhood without ever resorting to Hallmark sentimentality.

Great characterizations include Annette Bening as a regretful wife and Jimmy Smits as her sympathetic husband, Kerry Washington who hopes to adopt a child despite the obstacles, and indeed Watts is excellent as a determined pregnant single lawyer. This is one of the few 'several tales that cross paths' machinations that actually works.
mvieaddict
Super Reviewer
½ November 19, 2010
Director Rodrigo Garcia, brought this powerful family drama Mother and Child. He put multiple stories which effectively mixed together in creating rich woman characters. The result was an interesting movie showing many facets of the emotional experience of giving up a new born for adoption as well as the long term impact on mother and child by separation.Annette Bening was once again so brilliant in her role. She had a strong character, showing how brutally damaged she remained from the affect of losing her daughter, she brought such humanity to the character and Naomi Watts also gave a very mature performance.The complete cast was outstanding,but these ladies surely delivered Oscar worthy performances, and Director Garcia deserved the recognition as writer and director.
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2010
A powerful drama about three different women and the toils of motherhood and daughterhood. All three lead women, especially Annette Bening, were fantastic! I also liked Samuel L. Jackson's very solid supporting role, his character was not what you normally see out of him.
½ April 13, 2012
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.
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