Pedro Almodóvar is a unique writer/director whose talents, skills, imagination and creative mind can never be matched. Something about his stories resonates with us one way or another. It’s mostly about women and women. He exists in his alternate universe where he feels them, can touch their feelings, realize their fears, expectations and helps them fulfil their desires. He’s a master not just at work to deliver a piece of art – he delivers something more than that that is capable of living and outliving the silver screen.
This time, it’s two women from different ages and backgrounds. Both got into unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. They are at the hospital and are in the same room about to give birth to their children. When their paths cross again, the two begin to develop a strong bond because they are not just mothers – Janis (Penelope Cruz) and Ana (Milena Smit) are parallel mothers. They care about the upbringing of their children, not realizing they are much closer than they can imagine – sadly, in a tragic way.
Janis is in a relationship with her friend, Arturo, an anthropologist, who helps Janis and other families to uncover the bodies of their loved ones from the Spanish civil war. When Janis got pregnant, Arturo, at first did not want to have anything to do with the child because he was busy with his wife, who was battling cancer. Janis was clear that they had promised no commitment to each other; therefore, she stopped their relationships for good to focus on the child. But when her daughter was born, and Arturo came to visit, he quickly realized the child had no resemblance to him or his family. In fact, Janis also begins to realize that. But when she orders an online DNA test to confirm her doubt, everything changes when she invites Ana to her home to offer her to babysit her child.
It’s such a remarkable story that’s filled with heart and soul. Almodóvar continues delivering top-notch storytelling with an absolutely ground-breaking performance in one particular scene. That scene will break your heart into millions of pieces. It’s the scene that defines the love of a mother, sacrifice and willingness to share with a stranger; the most precious thing you ever get. Milena Smit matches Penelope Cruz’s strong performance, showing the other side of her personality. When there was a moment where any other person would deny or decline Janis, Ana did what the right thing to do was. Almodóvar creates a perfect conflict between two women – the biggest and most heart-wrenching. But he helps them overcome their fears and disappointment and guides them through the darkness that both women find themselves in.
“Parallel Mothers” is an emotional tour-de-force journey where you can’t pass certain scenes without tears. It’s such an important story and so deeply moving that it will impact everyone. It’s not just a cliché or something you may expect to see in any other film. Remember, it’s an Almodóvar film, which means it has all the necessary ingredients to tell an impactful story of motherhood and mothers – their traumas and how they cope with it.