NYFF 59 Review: “Parallel Mothers”

-Allison McCulloch

You have to look to the future.

Some people have criticized the double storyline of Penelope Cruz’s character, Janis Martinez, and Janis’ great-grandfather who was murdered during Franco’s reign of terror in Spain. I felt the two storylines complemented each other and it provided a strong basis for one of the best films I’ve seen in a while. Pedro Almodóvar had never made a film about what Franco did nor did he ever gift us with a lesbian scene – until now.

Janis’ hippie mother named her after Janis Joplin; she tells the story to Ana (Milena Smit), a woman she met while both gave birth to their daughters in the same hospital. While Ana is much younger, they both share the bond of motherhood and both react to problems by changing their phone numbers.

The cinematography is excellent. At one point, Ana turns her head when she’s near Penelope to evoke a Persona-esque shot.

There is too much to give away. I even muted a critic who gave away the basic premise (which is basically a huge, huge spoiler). So, that is why I like Almodóvar’s films. They are full of surprises and joys. They always make me cry. They usually show how promising and full life can be. And none of his films embody those things more than this one. 10/10

The Q&A (on 10/8/21) was pretty amazing. Pedro Almodóvar revealed Penelope Cruz made him question his sexuality (joking?), and Penelope Cruz revealed that as a child, she thought he should be the president of Spain. Pedro Almodóvar also revealed that he had a feeling that Milena Smit would become a superstar (and had the same feeling about Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas). Only time will tell!

Spain chose to submit The Good Boss to AMPAS for Best International Feature Film. I get the impression they are so shamed by their history that they ultimately wanted to prevent Parallel Mothers from garnering attention. Hopefully, it will be nominated in multiple categories at the Oscars, because it is one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen.

Vegan alert:
-Feathers in model’s dress
-Ana’s strawberry ice cream
-Reference to fish on top of the potatoes

Vegan points:
Chopping carrots

Follow Allison McCulloch on Twitter.

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