DRAMA; 2hr 6min
STARRING: Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson
Oh baby: Bening and Smits
In the triple-strand drama Mother and Child, writer-director Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives) takes a simpatico measure of motherhood. Karen (Bening) is a Los Angeles physical therapist who at 14 gave up her newborn daughter but has never been able to let her go. Elizabeth (Watts) is the manipulative lawyer that baby grew into. (Jackson is her boss and lover.) And Lucy (Washington), unable to conceive, is longing to adopt.
Each woman has a primary need to control. By her own admission, vexatious Karen is “difficult” — although that doesn’t deter her understanding partner (Smits). Elizabeth is emotionally removed and uses sex to assert herself — until it uses her. Lucy, so dominating in other respects, is at the mercy of a need she can’t control.
With all these balls in the air, the challenge for Garcia is to bring them down smoothly. Some landings are softer than others. But graced by deep-seated performances from the three diamond-polished leading ladies, each woman’s ending is enduringly truthful and profound.