Parallel Mothers (Pedro Almodovar, 2021, Spain/France)

Parallel Mothers is the latest film by Pedro Almodovar. The Spanish director, whose career has spanned multiple decades now, seems to be on a hot streak. After the much-acclaimed Pain and Glory starring Antonio Banderas, Almodovar has brought repeat collaborator Penelope Cruz back into the fold. This has resulted in a lot of the claims, with Parallel Mothers ending up on a lot of year-end lists for 2021. The film is distinct however from many of Almodovar's prior efforts. While he has touched on politics in prior films, Parallel is perhaps his most overtly political film and deals explicitly with the events of the Franco regime.

Our protagonist in the film, the photographer Janis Martinez (Penelope Cruz), enlists an archaeologist (Israel Elejade) to help her uncover the bodies of people killed by the Francoist regime. She sleeps with him and gets pregnant. At the hospital, she meets a young woman named Ana (Milena Smit), who gives birth at the same time as her. The story progresses into a pure melodrama, with a "switched-at-birth" scenario between Ana and Janis's babies. The film ultimately however comes back to its political aspect in the finale, when Janis goes to the excavation site.

Almodovar has some trouble marrying his usual melodrama here with the more political aspects of the film, and as a result, the film feels a bit disjointed. While the film is a visual feast to look at, with Almodovar's traditional attention to detail, the melodramatic aspect of the plot is very Lifetime-movie, and one wishes that Almodovar had pushed the plot somehow further here and made things more extreme. Knowing that the film is an artificial melodrama, why keep things tame? He tries to do this by adding a relationship between Janis and Ana, but it does not develop so far. Overall, Parallel Mothers is an interesting but flawed film.



Popular Posts