“Madres Paralelas”, love of women in a palace of mirrors

the new movie Almodóvar is a real blessing. A lifeline in the ocean of reactionary family silliness that has submerged films around the world.

Starting from a canvas that is a priori the most subservient to the diktats of the family scheme, the Spanish filmmaker, to the best of his talent, continues to show that, on this theme as on any other, the cinema is capable of bringing the freedom of filmmakers to life. people – characters and spectators -, the imagination and the complexity of emotions instead of submitting to dominant conformisms.

Two women, Janis in her forties and Ana, still a teenager, give birth at the same time. They become friends at the maternity ward. They each have a daughter. Soon Janis, who adores her baby, has doubts that her little Cecilia is indeed her child.

From DNA testing to reunion with Ana, then from double-dealing pretenses, a sort of tense mockery of maternal emotions, female desires and the countless forms that love takes – also takes place in men. occasion, even if it is in a very marginal way.

Parallel Mothers is perhaps the most Hitchcockian film from the director of Speak with her and of The Skin I Live In. A mechanism of suspense is deployed there which evacuates all the grand-puppet, the clumsy accessories of crime and physical violence, to make affects the only ground where intrigues, drama, manipulations are played out. All these springs never tend towards a moralistic judgment. They welcome the infinite iridescence of impulses, anxieties, inclinations.

Precision marquetry

If the film is so beautiful and so touching, it is because we perceive how much this cleaning up of the usual tinsel of melodrama is basically the sign of immense respect. Respect for the women we see, but also for all those who can empathize with what they feel. Nothing, ever, is decided in advance by a pre-existing mold, whether it is deemed to be natural or of civilization.

Parallel Mothers is a very written, very scripted film. As always with Almodóvar, nothing is naturalistic in this construction with the appearance of precision marquetry, where the choice of costumes, colors, lights, as well as the adjustment of adventures, gestures and emotional tones contribute to a proposal. ultimately very open, and which leaves so much freedom to everyone.

Parallel and symmetrical, convergent and perpendicular, straight and curved, the mothers are the heroines of a melodrama which lacks neither humor nor strangeness. | Pathé

In such a case, the assumption of responsibility by the interpreters is decisive. They – they, in this case – must with the same enthusiasm respond with extreme precision to the journey on the emotional cobwebs that the film weaves, and never reduce their character to its sole narrative function or to a unambiguous definition. .

For his seventh participation in an Almodóvar film since All about my mother, Penélope Cruz embodies an impressive Janis of palpitating interiority, of undecidability in the network of her needs, her impulses and her reservations.

In front of her, the quasi-beginner Milena Smit thrills, vulnerability to threat and desire devouring affection, multiple sensory strings, which never stop recombining in impressive arpeggios.

In a delicate way, this circulation in the labyrinth of the intimate relationships of two women also finds to be inscribed in a collective history, a painful and long-term history: that of Franco’s crimes and of the relationship to memory which still affects Spain. , more than eighty years after the end of the civil war.

Ana, Cecilia, Janis (and Elena played by Rossy de Palma) are all fictional characters who are used to compose a very real and predominantly female collective story. | Pathé

The choreographic finesse of the last sequences, where, without any sentimentalism, the gestures and postures tell more than the words, is exemplary in this respect.

Parallel mothers is Almodóvar’s most accomplished film in a good decade (apart from the delicious short film The human voice with Tilda Swinton, swallowed by the Covid and distributed only in VOD and DVD). The most graceful too, in the sense that the filmmaker’s taste for scenarios with drawers, coincidences and twists will have in recent films often seemed more laborious.

Breath of fresh air

The filmmaker’s twenty-second feature film thus reminds us that, like any other, the theme of family relations is not condemned to the conformism and sentimentalism which parasitize so many films – a singularly salutary reminder in these days.

We live in a time when not a week goes by without the release of at least one feature film seeking to capitalize on the so-called sacrosanct family relationship.

Under the influence of the reactionary and televisual tune of the times, it has also become the rule to hide the weaknesses of the script and the staging under a thick layer of family drama. The painful In his lifetime, in theaters since November 24, provides a typical example: unable to believe enough about it – cancer and the end of life – the film is saturated with grandmother-dad-son tinkering.

Therefore the temptation would be great to simply want to eject this issue from the films, dreaming of what they did in a salutary way in the past by their polemical will of filmmakers such as Bergman, Loach and Chabrol, Bellocchio and Ferreri. It is also the merit of Parallel Mothers to show that these matters, those of family relations, of maternal love, of the desire for a child like ties of blood and of the heart, can, like any other, remain lively and open.

Jean-Michel Frodo’s film critics are to be found in the program “Cultural Affinities” by Tewfik Hakem, Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on France Culture.

Parallel Mothers

By Pedro Almodóvar

Avec Penelope Cruz, Milena Smit, Israel Elejalde, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón


Duration: 2h

Output: 1is december 2021

Source: Slate.fr by www.slate.fr.

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