Writer/director Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives) challenges the intractable bond between mother and child in a compelling triptych of regret and redemption. With tour-de-force performances from Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington, Garcia teases out the trials and tribulations of adoption and the profound and prevailing consequences for all.
After being forced to give up her daughter of a teenage pregnancy, Karen (Bening) is a broken woman. Blunt and bristly, her unlikable personality belies a desperate loneliness and unspoken grief, which slowly, painstakingly begins to heal when she meets Paco (Jimmy Smits). Elizabeth (Watts) is her biological daughter, and, although the two have never met, Elizabeth shares her mother’s assertive character, which manifests in a steely professionalism and a dominating nature that sees her coolly seduce both her boss (Samuel L. Jackson) and her next door neighbour (Marc Blucas). Meanwhile, Lucy (Washington) is desperate to adopt a baby and must navigate all manner of doubts to fulfill this yearning need.
It is a tribute to Garcia’s talents and casting that this dense, multi-narrative story plays out so clearly and affectingly. Watts and Bening are absolutely electric in their complimentary roles, and although Washington’s character is comparatively less nuanced, she still brings depth and humanity to what could easily have devolved into a caricature of a hysterical, barren woman. Although some of the writing is a bit earnest and a few subplots unnecessary, Mother and Child is a powerful parable that uses the most primal of bonds to uncover the aching abyss of regret and the fundamental human need for connection.
Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 17 June 2010
Also worth checking out is the great Creative Screenwriting Magazine Podcast with Garcia, Jackson and producer Julie Lynn.