Parallel Mothers / Parallel Mothers (2021)

Parallel Mothers is a Spanish drama written by a respected filmmaker Pedro Almodovar. The film had the honor of opening the 78th Venice Film Festival where it is Penelope Cruz won the Best Actress award. Distribution in Spain started on October 8 through Sony Pictures Releasing International. Although he celebrated his 72nd birthday, Almodovar proves once again that he is a prominent figure in European film and a relevant filmmaker who is still ready to develop film.

The plot of the film follows two unmarried women Janice (Penelope Cruz) and AnaMilena Smit) who got pregnant unplanned and who meet in the common room at the maternity hospital. Janice is approaching her fifth decade and does not regret that the adventure with married Arthur resulted in an unplanned pregnancy, while Ana is a frightened teenager whose parents do not care too much. The few sentences they exchange will create a very close bond between the two, and that bond will develop and complicate by chance, until it finally changes their lives.

At the beginning of the film, we realize that the author has something important to say about the largely unspoken history of his homeland. The prologue sets out the logistics of literally digging through the past, while in the epilogue we see that this is finally being achieved. In the immediate vicinity of Janice’s birthplace, there is a mass grave from the time of the Civil War and Frank’s rise. It is clear to everyone that people are buried there, but the truth about the fate of the dead, and with it the terrible consequences of the country’s nationalist past, must be exhumed.

After the meeting of Janice and Ana in the maternity hospital, the story develops in the direction of typical Almodovar melodramas that contain motherhood, a bit of black humor, exceptional acting performances that bring subtlety to the emotional aspect of the film, as well as unexpected notes of authenticity. There are many secrets, lies and other entanglements that fulfill the melodramatic twists of fate. The paths of our heroines are separated and crossed again, and through a series of coincidences, doubts and a rather shocking surprise, they become one, and then they both have to examine their status as mothers and friends.

The main story is finely complicated, but apart from minimal references to Janice’s initial goal, it has absolutely nothing to do with what we see in the prologue. One gets the impression that while writing the screenplay, Almodovar was suddenly inspired by a new idea and continued on with the hope that he would somehow unite them. The main action, which includes childbirth, friendship and the future, is very contrasting with the prologue and epilogue, which contain death, war and a sinful past – it acts either as a deliberate distraction or as an unintentional wrong step.

This film is a subtle but unequivocal attack on Spanish right-wing organizations and political parties, which surprised me because Almodovar’s films usually seem to be totally separate from contemporary themes and issues. Perhaps the complication of the main action is conceived as a parallel to how everyday demands, desires and struggles interfere with looking into the turbulent past. What is unequivocal is that Penelepe Cruz acted perfectly and that Almodovar once again proved that he perfectly understands the psychology of women and that he possesses exceptional directing skills.

Parallel Mothers is a Spanish emotional melodrama and the most politically charged film by Pedro Almodovar so far, in which the celebrated filmmaker focuses on revealing hidden truths and asking difficult questions to which there are no correct answers.

my final grade: 7/10

Source: The Filmske Recenzije by

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