It all starts with a shoot that shows the main character Janis (Penélope Cruz) as the photographer. She is a confident single woman who becomes pregnant after a brief affair. In the hospital she meets Ana (Milena Smit), who is also expecting a child. In contrast to Janis, the 17-year-old is still at the beginning of her life and does not have much help at her side with the exalted acting mother Teresa (Aitana Sánchez Gijón). And yet both young mothers will raise their daughters alone and absorb themselves in this role – each in their own way.
But luck is clouded when Janis begins to doubt whether her daughter with the dark complexion is really hers – and a genetic test brings the sad certainty. The research brings the lives of Janis and Ana back together, whereby the younger of the two women does not know what the other already knows.
Much of “Parallel Mothers” shows the director’s very own handwriting: for example the rhythmic mixture of fast leaps and slow narrative pace or the tactic of giving a new direction to a seemingly classically told story with twists and turns. The film opened the Venice Film Festival, where Cruz won Best Actress and is also nominated for an Oscar.
The subjective private morality plays no role here, the focus is on social responsibility. In this way, “Parallel Mothers” intertwines the subject areas of single mothers with the duty to face the past. Role models that have been conveyed over generations are placed in an indirect relationship to the suppressed topic of the civil war in Spain. All this is somewhat didactic, but always in colorful images, fueled by music in the style of Hitchcock’s regular partner Bernard Herrmann. This is how Almodóvar tells the big story with the help of the small story.
“Parallel Mothers”, Spain 2021, 123 minutes. Director: Pedro Almodóvar. Now in cinemas
The trailer for the film: