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Parallel Mothers ★★★★

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Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Cast: Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Julieta Serrano, Rossy de Palma, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Daniela Santiago, Israel Elejalde

Release: January 28, 2022 (UK)

Pedro Almodóvar is a modern-day auteur who continuously adapts his style but maintains the flare that has made him unique. Almodóvar has been in fine form recently with films like Pain & Glory, and his lockdown short The Human Voice and his latest film Parallel Mothers reunites him with his frequent collaborator Penélope Cruz. The sheer energy and creativity these two artists bring to cinema is always an event not to be missed.

The film follows Janis (Penélope Cruz) and Ana (Milena Smit) meeting in a hospital where they are about to give birth. Both are single and became pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, has no regrets and is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared and repentant. Janis encourages her as they move like sleepwalkers through the hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between them, which by chance will develop and complicate, decisively changing their lives.

Parallel Mothers feels like a classic Almodóvar but with a fresher sense of purpose. The storytelling is utterly compelling, and it’s wonderfully blended within the kitchen sink drama motif. While Janis and Ana are at different moments in their lives, motherhood connects them. While Almodóvar is known for these stories, he establishes differences in both characters with separate vulnerabilities and motives. There is an elevated feeling of drama that courses through the veins of the narrative, and this potentially may be Almodóvar’s most political film for quite some time.

While you’d expect both characters to be separated, they are intertwined with rapacious editing that poetically balances the commanding score from Alberto Iglesias. Within Parallel Mothers, you can sense Almodóvar is baring his soul for his country and the lost souls of the past. It has a haunting personality that deeply resonates similarly to his previous film Pain & Glory. It seems the older the maestro gets, the more he reflects on his life and his heritage.

The heart of this tale is motherhood which is a hot topic within the maestro’s oeuvre. It’s an interesting observation that paths in life may be different, but the feeling of motherhood is universal. It takes many exciting twists and turns within this highly polished production. Penélope Cruz continues to up her game for Almodóvar and potential her best performance for him. Janis is a compelling character who sees the world with a keen eye. Cruz channels a lot of energy within the fiery dialogue and allows you to gaze into her soul through her eyes. Milena Smit delves even deeper as Ana, and she perfectly complements Cruz. Her naivete is clear to see, but her will and determination is compelling.

Parallel Mothers is aesthetically pleasing and is deep in thought. Pedro Almodóvar continues to deliver thoughtfully riveting films after all of these years, and there is no sign of that stopping.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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