Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mother and Child

"Mother and Child" has good sections, but the film is still problematic. It manages to be enjoyable in portions, but there are many minutes where the action barely registers. As my friend said, it can be chalked up as a "disconnect," as something similarly happened to me during Olivier Assayas' extremely overrated "Summer Hours" or Matt Tyrnauer's "Valentino: The Last Emperor"; however, this film is more entertaining and engaging (although it struggles at points). As ruminated on before, the film touches on the hardships of pregnancy and parenthood, plus the fact of, as people have said, "adoption."

The film is in three parts that are cut between all the time, which is a well-done facet of Rodrigo Garcia (who, as said before, has done this before with "Nine Lives" and "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her"). One is of Karen (Annette Bening older, Alexandria M. Salling when young) who has an erratic and rocky personality, almost manic-depressive, and who will always be scarred by the fact that her daughter was taken away from her at age 14 when she got pregnant and had the baby. She knows that the kid is now a 37-year-old living a life unrelated to hers. She is having a hard time courting a guy she likes at work (Jimmy Smits), because she doesn't have a really meshable personality. Her mother is dying, and she's really pissed off that the maid and the maid's daughter have a closer relationship to her mother than she did.

We also follow Karen's daughter (Naomi Watts), who's taken on the name of Elizabeth as she really didn't have another. She's a high-maintenance lawyer who's got a great resumé. Her new boss Paul (Samuel L. Jackson) she likes and he likes her. He takes her to a dinner that she thinks more people will be at, and then she brings him to her apartment. He's old enough to be her father; speaking of which, she actually has him masquerade as one. This woman is very devoted to her will, enough so that she's pretty manipulative. She pretty much drinks Paul into a stupor so she can have sex with him. The same goes for her affair with a man in her apartment building, who she messes around with, as my friend said, by putting her panties in his wife's drawer. She gets pregnant, and, as my friend said, she isn't too happy about that, as it will tamper with her solitude.

The third part is with Lucy (Kerry Washington) and her quiet husband Joseph (David Ramsey). They can't have a baby together, and they want a baby, so they try to adopt one. The baby's mother is very finicky and wants to control everything, down to the last minute. She is uncertain on the right couple and is thinking that Lucy is giving the right answers to her questions, although they are difficult (like what theism she believes in and what she will teach the baby. Lucy is receiving a lot of pressure from her mother and is feeling that her husband is not giving her support.

The scenes in this film sometimes feel awkward and stilted, but perhaps Garcia has intended this. This draws more attention to them. For the most part, though, this wasn't really a big problem. My interest just wasn't captured enough for large portions, even though I was sometimes engaged. Also, the plot itself felt a little creaky. I, like my friend and the critics, was supportive of the performances. But this film needed at least some work, to make it more interesting and less shaky. C+


Stephanie said...

I haven't seen Jimmy Smits in anything in years. I like Naomi Watts and Samuel Jackson too. Based on how you described the premise of this movie it sounds like something I'd really enjoy. However, the disconnected, stilted scenes would bother me.

S M Rana said...

Thanks for your long visit! It was nice to come home ater a week to find all those comments diagonally across my blog.