A review of the new Spanish film “Parallel Mothers”

I’ve seen a number of art house films recently which characteristically were very slow and very opaque. So it was a not-so-guilty pleasure to view “Parallel Mothers” which moves at pace and has a clear narrative. Of course, I would have expected nothing less from the Spanish master Pedro Almodóvar both wrote and directed this wonderful movie.

For the eight time, Almodóvar cast his favourite actor, the beautiful and ever so talented Penélope Cruz. She plays the lead role of Janis, a middle-aged woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and befriends a teenager Ana (the ingénue Milena Smit) who is having her baby in the same hospital at the same time.

It is a moving tale of love and loss, at both a very personal level of two first-time mothers facing emotional challenge and at a societal level of a country coming to terms with the horrors of a civil war still raw and recent. Except for the final sequences, the dialogue is constant so there are a lot of sub-titles but the viewer still needs to savour Almodóvar’s trademark use of vibrant colour.

This is a gay director who loves working with women and giving them strong roles and there is only one significant male character (Israel Elejalde), but he is kindly and has a significant part in both the personal and the political levels of the story.


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