Matthew Lickona 2:02 p.m., Sept. 23
Mother and Child
- Rated R | 2 hours, 5 minutes
- Official website
Passable soap opera passed off as high and heavy drama. Writer-director Rodrigo García, who charted nine different and differing women in Nine Lives, has here cut down to a mere three. The connection between two of them is immediately clear, mother and child, more exactly the biological mother who at birth gave up the child for adoption thirty-seven years back. Both of these are individualized and unidealized women, two well-defended independents, the older one (Annette Bening) a prickly, persnickety, hypercritical physical therapist who does not make friends easily, or even conversation, and the younger one (Naomi Watts), her mother’s daughter even though they have never known one another, a self-possessed, icy, blunt, upwardly mobile attorney — “I’m not in the sisterhood. I’m my own person” — with a penchant for reckless provocation. (Really, though, shouldn’t there be some follow-up if she’s going to slip off her panties in her neighbor’s apartment and stow them in the dresser drawer of his pregnant wife?) The third one, a childless married African-American, has no apparent connection to the others, and although we may be confident that this storyline will sooner or later tie in, it feels in the meantime to be a bit of a drag, a third wheel, not least because the character is the most conventional and least intriguing: a tight-wound woman (Kerry Washington) whose sole fault is her overeagerness to adopt, given that the biological option isn’t open to her. To spend our time trying to guess how and when the tie-in will come is to trivialize the movie. Which is to say, it trivializes itself. Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson, Cherry Jones. 2010.