Family tales

Having spent the school holidays seeing just about every kids movie which was showing, I was looking forward to a night out with friends to see a grown-ups’ movie.

Mother and Child touches on a subject which is seldom portrayed on the big screen with any great conviction or compassion – adoption. Starring Annette Bening as Karen, a 51 year old who, forced by her mother, gave up the child she had when she was 14 for adoption. From this point on, Karen’s life became somewhat dysfunctional. Living alone with her ageing, dependent and morosely cynical mother, she works as a physical therapist at a rehabilitation clinic and clings to the past, through her lost love when she was 14 and the daughter she gave up for adoption.

Withdrawn to a level appearing misanthropic, Karen is caught off guard by the attentions of a new co-worker, the warm and generous Paco (Jimmy Smits). Paco learns to understand her social ineptitude and, their rocky courtship, which follows the death of her controlling mother, is the source of understated humour in this difficult tale. A low-key wedding sees Karen with an instant family and the support of this family gives her the courage to look for her daughter.

Meanwhile, in the same city, Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), is a successful attorney who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. At 37, she does not dwell on the mother who gave her up for adoption, assuming that if she wanted to find her, she would have tried by now. When Elizabeth herself falls pregnant by her boss, played by Samuel L Jackson, she decides to uproot her life and move on, a pattern which she has repeated many times over the years. Her pregnancy is the catalyst she needs to try and trace her mother.

Simmering away in the background is the tale of Lucy (Kerry Washington), who unable to conceive a child of her own, embarks on the journey to adoption. Watch this space and the relevance of this seemingly unconnected story will be revealed.

Prepare to weep yet marvel at the strength of these three women’s stories.

Reviewed by Debbie McTaggart

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