Combustible Celluloid
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With: Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Israel Elejalde, Rossy de Palma, Julieta Serrano
Written by: Pedro Almodóvar
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality
Language: Spanish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 123
Date: 01/07/2022

Parallel Mothers (2022)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Be My Baby

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Pedro Almodóvar's latest soap opera is, as usual, impeccably made, making use of its physical spaces to both enhance and control the characters' emotions. Yet it still feels like one of his lesser efforts, perhaps because of the creaky conceit behind the setup. Middle-aged photographer Janis (Penélope Cruz) finds herself pregnant after a fling with a forensic archaeologist, Arturo (Israel Elejalde). She's thrilled with the news and decides to keep the child. She winds up rooming in the hospital with a teen mother, Ana (Milena Smit), who is not at all certain about motherhood. Their babies are born at the same time, and they form a strong friendship. I don't want to give anything away, but it's all too easy to guess the thing that kicks off the chain of events. A twist of fate changes the women's relationships, and the movie follows their ups and downs. A subplot about Janis and Arturo's attempt to open up a mass grave related to the Spanish Civil War is marginally more interesting than the soapy stuff, but I was unable to see how it connected. Even so, Almodóvar's sure touch, and his effortless repartee with Cruz and his usual crew, and especially with the unforgettable Rossy de Palma (who has worked with Almodóvar since the 1980s), make Parallel Mothers a worthwhile sit.

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