Sunday, December 12th, 2021

Queerguru’s Ris Fatah reviews PARALLEL MOTHERS the latest drama from queer Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar


Pedro Almodovar’s latest film, Parallel Mothers, is an energetic, colorful melodrama acknowledging the rich tapestry of Spanish life, motherhood, family, and history. Premiering at this year’s Venice Film Festival, and starring long-time collaborator Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers is the story of two mothers whose babies get accidentally swapped at birth, and the long ensuing journey after that of drama, decision-making, and acceptance.

Cruz plays Janis, a 40-year-old fashion photographer who is pregnant with a daughter after a somewhat casual affair with a married forensic archaeologist, Arturo (Israel Elejalde). His wife is ill and he doesn’t want to leave her, nor for Janis to have the baby. Janis decides to keep the baby and bring it up alone. Whilst at the hospital giving birth she establishes a friendship with another woman, the rather reluctant single mother Ana, (Milena Smit). The women bond on their shared experience – the only problem being that Janis realizes some time after they have left the hospital that she has the wrong baby but Ana doesn’t know this. We follow Janis’s excruciating path of twists and turns as she gradually works out what to do.

Meanwhile, Janis tasks her ex Arturo with finding the grave of her great-grandfather, who was murdered by Franco’s army during the Spanish Civil War. He is apparently buried in a mass grave outside his village and Janis, like many tens of thousands of other Spanish people today, wants to give him a proper burial. Almodovar is shining a light here on the brutality of what happened during the Spanish Civil War and this open-wound storyline ties in well with the film’s general themes of intergenerational love, life, family, accepting the truth, and closure.

Cruz gives an excellent, energetic performance as always, and really holds the different storylines together. Shot in Madrid, beautiful, colorful cinematography by Jose Luis Alcaine and lush production design by Antxon Gomez combine with a gentle soundtrack by Alberto Iglesias to really complement the film.  Alejandra Loiseau’s art direction also deserves special credit. A brilliant supporting cast includes the wonderful Rossy de Palma, another long-term Almodovar collaborator, who plays Elena, Janis’ larger-than-life magazine editor best friend. Aitana Sanchez-Gijon also gives a sterling performance as Ana’s rather absent, selfish actor mother Teresa. Fans of Almodovar will love his customary attention to detail in the film’s abundant production, his celebration of women, as well as Cruz’s random decision-making as the plot twists and turns. Modern-day family drama at its best.


Sony Pictures are releasing the movie in US movie theaters on December 24th, 
and Pathe Films will release it in UK cinemas on Jan 28th 


Review: Ris Fatah 

Queerguru Contributing Editor Ris Fatah is a successful fashion/luxury business consultant  (when he can be bothered) who divides and wastes his time between London and Ibiza. He is a lover of all things queer, feminist, and human rights in general. @ris.fatah

Posted by queerguru  at  11:23


Genres:  drama, international

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