A finely crafted, if tangled excursion into remembrance and loss has a renewing and assuaging aura about it from the helming Spaniard Pedro Almodovar. He makes coping with what happened and is something to behold.
The maker of the autobiographical Pain & Glory exudes candor and humanity in what connects to political and maternal with striking verisimilitude in his latest, Parallel Mothers (fully subtitled).
Two women, one middle-age and one still in her tens, end up giving birth at the same time in a Madrid hospital. The auteur continues his renaissance in a production where hues are enhanced by deep-focus lensing, in additional detailed designs and a moody soundtrack from Alberto Iglesias.
The director and writer’s muse Penelope Cruz excels as the older Janis embraces his poignant bathos. The set-up of this character, a Madrid commercial photographer, includes her retaining a married forensic archeologist Auto (Israel Elejalde) to exhume a grave site where her great-grandfather a part of the victims of the Spanish Civil War fascists during the 1930s. It could take years to have a committee fund this type of project he tells her. And things take a turn when their affair leads to a child, Cecilia (named after her grandmother) who raised her, as later she finds out something is not right.
The deft Almodovar has a way to navigate through a chaos that includes a depressed and withdrawn roommate of Janis, Milena Smit’s rangy Ana. As her theatre actress mother Teresa (Altana Sanchez-Gijon) ends up neglecting her for her chance in a Madrid stage production. A frayed Janis (named after famous crooner Joplin) is buoyed by her brassy friend and agent Elena (Rossy de Palma)
Parallel Mothers unfolds off a seemingly high concept in ways that invite skepticism and rumination, but a sincerity in its provocation concerning danger, malice and deadbeat that juxtaposes foreground and subtext without any visible villains at last is birthing with emotion.