Child – Film – Movie Review
A SCREENFUL OF CAPTIVATING TALENT
by Kevin Bowen
published May 26, 2010
Mother and Child
now playing in
They are talented and
respected. They are famous. They draw much praise.
So is it possible for them to
be overlooked, too? I would say yes.
In this way, Annette Bening and
Naomi Watts are similar actresses from slightly different generations. Each could make an argument for being best among their age. Yet
each one is overshadowed – Bening by the long legacy of Meryl Streep; Watts by Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet.
Mother and Child
is an inviting
showcase for these two talents. The new film from Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives) embroils them in a distant teenage adoption that severely wounds all sides.
Bening plays the once 14-year-old mother now creeping into a lonely middle age. She is an
unusually prickly personality, alone, with only an aging mother on whom to lavish her care. At certain moments, such as breaking up a coffee
break with a co-worker, her blunt, unaware manner becomes darkly funny. As a man arrives in her life, she slowly comes to terms with the
loss that has haunted her for so long.
Watts really shines here as the
37-year-old daughter, a gifted but itinerant lawyer who avoids other human beings. Her main contact with other people comes in the form of
seduction and manipulation. When she uses the figurative expression “There are many ways to skin a cat,” you wonder how many she has literally
tried. Yet through her iciness, Watts magnetically brings forth both distress and sympathy. This is her best performance since her best
performances (Mulholland Dr., 21 Grams).
The story, shaped in the
well-established three-story form of producer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, offers Kerry Washington as a third mother, seeking to be matched
with a child for adoption. She’s matched with a teen mother-to-be (Shareeka Epps) who is picky and brutally honest toward potential adopted
mothers. While Washington holds her own, the storyline comes across as unnecessary and distracting to the main dynamic.
In Nine Lives, Garcia
used long takes to study stresses on women. Here he continues that desire, examining the effects of it. The pull of motherhood, as well as its absence, becomes a wounding experience for these women. Then as the
story goes on and as love and motherhood re-enter their lives, it becomes the only tonic. While the film gets there through contrivance and
coincidence, it is necessary and earned, by the care of the director and the talent of the women.