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Film Reviews
Parallel Mothers
| Saturday, 01.22.2022, 04:31 AM |   (562 views)

Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers is a film of secrets.  As has been said about secrets, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant.  The fact that you kept it does not.  Parallel Mothers is also a tale of strong women, single mothers and not living with regret, no matter the personal cost. 

Penelope Cruz plays Janis, a woman about to give birth, sharing a Madrid hospital room with Ana, (Milena Smit), a teen who is at the same point in her own pregnancy.   Though both are unmarried, Janis knows her own mind and is ecstatic about the baby, not expecting or needing the father to play any major role in the child’s life.  On the other hand, young Ana has an idea who the father of her child is but can’t be sure.  She’s very scared about being a mother and all that entails.   

Soon these two women will become inextricably linked by their pasts and the secrets they carry.  For very different reasons, each woman holds the secret of their child’s paternity in a deathgrip. 

Janis is a professional photographer, well known and respected in her chosen field. At first blush, Ana appears to be completely under the thumb of her dominating mother (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), who, like Janis, is also in the arts.  Ana’s mom is an actress, and will sacrifice anything to get her big break, including leaving town after the birth of her new granddaughter to go on the road with a show.  Still, Ana gravitates toward the strong-willed Janis and forms a bond with her, far beyond that of new motherhood.  She needs some stability in her life and finds it with Janis. 

While she’s dealing with single motherhood, Janis is also heavily invested in the potential excavation of her grandfather’s body.  He, along with others in his village, were murdered by opposing Spanish forces, their bodies buried haphazardly in mass graves many years ago.  A war crime that was kept a secret for decades under General Franco.  Janis was raised by strong, determined women, women who want to unearth the secrets the government wanted to keep buried.  

Almodovar plays a few tricks with the timeline, jumping back and forth between the same-day birth of the two baby girls and a few years down the line.  By then, it’s well established that Janis is totally in love with her child, Cecilia, and will do anything to give her the best life possible, even if that involves keeping her away from her father.  We are only given brief peeks into the lives of Ana, her child and her mother, until two years have elapsed.

Naturally, Arturo (Israel Elejalde), the father of Janis' child is keeping some secrets of his own. However, once Arturo reenters the picture, their world is turned upside down. 

Parallel lines, parallel lives.  Truth and deceit.  Is keeping the secrets of the children in their best interests, when so many might suffer if the truth were known?

Shot beautifully, with stunning slow fades at the end of many scenes as if closing a chapter, this tale follows a pair of women literally from cradle to grave.   Women who simply could not bear to hide hard truths, even when it breaks their hearts.

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor for In Focus Magazine.  She's been a News Editor at NBC affiliate WESH2 in Orlando for more than a decade. She was formerly with WKMG6 for 14 years as a News Editor. She spent nine years in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite and MTV Networks. She also worked as an on-air host for local cable access programs. Lisa has covered the Florida Film Festival for the past 29 years as well as the World Peace Film Festival. She was a columnist for Lady Freethinker, and  She has been a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper and now for In Focus Magazine. 


Lisa Blanck can be reached at: [email protected] 

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