Best Movies of 2022 in UK: Number 3 – Parallel Mothers | film | Daily News Byte


OOn the face of it, this has all the hallmarks of a vintage Almodóvar film: a focus on women (especially Penelope Cruz), fluid sexuality, deep mysteries, clashing colors and to-die-for interiors. But this is Almodóvar’s most overtly political film to date, dealing with mass graves and the unknown victims of the Spanish Civil War. In his early career, in the shadow of the repressive Franco era, Almodóvar’s raucous, profane, hedonistic films were political by their very existence, but he recognizes that times have changed, and with the rise of the far right, Spain is at risk. Forgetting the lessons he learned so painfully long ago. So here he is digging them up.

With elements of thriller, comedy, and melodrama, the story is typically tied to an Almodóvarian structure. Cruise plays Janis, a photographer who becomes pregnant by one of his subjects, a forensic archaeologist who excavates mass graves (and is his wife). At the maternity hospital he meets Ana (Milena Smit), a teenage mother who is also planning to raise her child alone. Neither will it be an easy time. Their lives and the lives of their daughters become increasingly – some might say improbable – intertwined through a combination of tragedy, solidarity, desire and administrative error. But as always Almodóvar delivers his story with such consummate skill, it’s a joy to be swept along.

And once again, Cruise is gorgeous (she won Best Actress for this at the Venice Film Festival last year). Her Janice is a conflicted but all-believable mix of determination and vulnerability. She’s flawed and extravagant and inappropriate, and arguably very evil, but any character played by Cruise is impossible to hate, and she’s never less than compelling. Watching her face as she reacts to the information she is reading on the computer screen is also captivating.

For some, the parallels between modern motherhood and Spanish history may seem unsettling, but Almodóvar clearly sees connections in terms of trauma passed down through generations, women banding together and getting by without men, and secrets that will only emerge until then. Until they don’t. is brought to light. The ambition is admirable: few films this year managed to do half, even half. That the 73-year-old Almodóvar can maintain and continue to develop his distinctive cinematic imprint is surely a mark of his greatness.


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