The Colombian-born writer and director of Mother and Child, Rodrigo García, is a man clearly fascinated by the complexities of familial relationships. His previous work includes a TV drama entitled Fathers and Sons, and another of his big-screen pieces, Nine Lives, examined the lives of several women in layered vignettes. Mother and Child marks no great departure from the theme, as a pastiche of American lives focusing on three separate women and their own maternal bonds. Karen (Annette Bening) is a middle-aged woman, riddled with guilt and haunted by the loss of her daughter, whom she gave up for adoption many years earlier, after having become pregnant at the age of 14. Her daughter, Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), is completely unknown to her but has subsequently forged her way in life as a successful but prickly lawyer, who has troubled relationships with the men that fall in her path. Her boss, Paul (Samuel L Jackson) is one of these unfortunates. His is a brief but impassioned role. Completing the female triumvirate is Lucy (Kerry Washington), a young, married woman who cannot have children and has embarked, with resignation, on the process of adoption. All have their own reasons for grief, which are carried magnificently to the screen. Bening, in particular, spends much of the film's two hours with hollowed eyes, crippled by pain. The pace is plodding in parts, with a few scenes that err on the side of contrived. And yet the emotionally charged performances from everyone involved manage to hold the attention. Just remember your tissues; several of the baby shots seem designed to have you reaching for them.
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