Parallel Mothers ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
The story of two mothers who give birth the same day. Out this Friday in selected cinemas, including Chiswick Cinema.
As I was watching Parallel Mothers I was reminded of how much I adore Pedro Almodóvar’s work. I’ve seen most of his films and with the exception of the rather silly I’m So Excited! I’ve pretty much liked all of them.
His bold colours, his attention to décor and costumes, his love for dipping into excessive kitsch and camp and, most of all, his insightful depiction of women through melodramatic stories, full of humour and often convoluted (and slightly contrived) plots have cemented Almodóvar’s name not just in Spanish cinema, but in the history of cinema full stop.
This film, like many of his previous ones, is centred on a story born from some crazy coincidence. Many of the director’s trademarks are present too, including Penelope Cruz, in one of her best performances since Volver from 2006. Watch out also for newcomer Milena Smit, because she is wonderful too.
About half an hour into this, little cynical that I am (so full of myself!), I thought I knew exactly what I was watching and I could see the director building up towards a revelation which to me was so obvious that for a moment I almost lost confidence in the whole film.
Then, all of sudden, the film took an unexpected turn, and then another one… and another… and another. At which point I really had no idea where it was heading to and I found myself drawn in more and more, emotionally moved and fascinated in equal measure. That’s when I realised I was loving being in the company of these women and I could have watched hours and hours of this film.
Parallel Mothers is constantly surprising, as it shifts left and right through a series plot twists and revelations which in the hands of a less experienced director could have felt fake and over the top.
I’m being very cagy here, because the less you know about what happens in the film, the better. Let me just say that it’s a story about motherhood and family ties… and let’s leave it at that.
Slightly less successful is the amalgamation of a secondary plot about an excavation of a mass grave where victims were buried during the Spanish Civil War.
This is a part of history the director is very passionate about. It was the subject of a powerful documentary he produced in 2018 called The Silence of Others, but while clearly the link between the two storylines is still about ancestry and connection with families, and however moving the final scene was, I couldn’t help feeling that this part was a bit forced and should have belonged to another film altogether (which would definitely have been just as strong).
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
Parallel Mothers is out this Friday in selected cinemas, including Chiswick Cinema.
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