Parallel Mothers

audience Reviews

, 79% Audience Score
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Cruz is fantastic in this movie. Several stories and some surprises.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    Almodóvar traditionally prioritizes vibrant color and strong performances to create in-depth melodramas that frequently explore deeper themes, but for me at the end of the day they are still very heavy on the melodramatic elements. Whether or not you like that is entirely a matter of personal preference, but to me the deceptions, torrid relationships, 'stunning' revelations, and exaggerated performances seem to be designed to pull at the audience's heartstrings without really investing too deeply in story or character. Relative to other films from the acclaimed Spanish director, Parallel Mothers seems to be a bit more wandering and disconnected, but still manages to largely join its two major halves (the role of motherhood and the violence of Spain's Fascist past) with major thematic overlap in the exploration of an individual's connections to their family and a more pronounced legacy. But it's Almodóvar's bizarre insistence on using alienating tropes ("Ana Manso is the mother? But I'm Ana Manso!") that keeps me at arm's length from his films. (3/5)
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Fantastic story and plot, left my mouth agape at some moments
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Pedro Almodovar remains to this day a visionary and masterful filmmaker, and displays his trademark style with great expertise. Although it's by far not his best work, as its themes of unplanned motherhood and the aftermath of the Spanish civil war don't always mesh well. Still, it's worth watching because of great lead performances from frequent collaborator Penelope Cruz and newcomer Milena Smit.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    It's an interesting setup. And it's well-performed. And well-scored. But the important, more intriguing story is the main subplot--all the things Arturo did to get permission for the excavation. While that happens in the background of this story, it might have been a more interesting story to follow with this (often stark, dragged-out) one in the background. Or a parallel of the two, with both in the forefront.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Another devastating masterpiece from Spain's greatest director. Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar's melodrama Parallel Mothers (2021), or ‘Madres paralelas' as it is originally titled in Spain, is a refined art piece from a true master writer and director. Pedro Almodóvar's direction is striking with his usual visual flair and love of vibrant colors. He effortlessly takes you through his shocking melodramatic story of switched babies at birth and how children have affected two separate mothers in their tumultuous lives. His emotional connections resonate deeply as I really cared about these ladies. Every moment feels thought out and engaging from Almodóvar's careful and loving direction that always has a cozy, warm, and inviting feel. I adored Parallel Mothers like Almodóvar's previous pictures Volver, Broken Embraces, and Pain & Glory among his earlier classics. Almodóvar's writing style is very mature and thoughtful as he reflects on what it means to be a mother, a Spaniard, I found myself drawn to the tale of two women relating to one another more than the second plot about Franco era war crimes in Spain, but both narratives in Parallel Mothers are enthralling. Almodóvar delivers an emotionally devastating story about two mothers losing their children in a shocking way, two single mothers raising a child, two women falling in love in a captivating lesbian romance, and old skeletons being dug up to close the last chapter in an old Spanish war all in one film. Almodóvar takes time and patience to tell each story with grace and empathy for those involved. I am always impressed by how humanist his perspective feels, how enthralling his storytelling feels, and how tasteful his romance and drama comes across. I'm so glad producer Agustín Almodóvar keeps funding Pedro Almodóvar's films. Writer Pedro Almodóvar's words bring themes of motherhood and sympathy between women back from his classic Spanish film All About My Mother for Parallel Mothers. I also noticed parallels to Almodóvar's Volver and Pieces of a Woman with Vanessa Kirby. I hope that painful generational trauma will linger for only so long before healing over time. I hope that viewers will give Parallel Mothers a chance as it is rich with emotional clarity and mature reflectiveness in that elegant way of Almodóvar's writing and direction. Penélope Cruz is absolutely phenomenal as Parallel Mothers' sympathetic and shocking heroine Janis. Cruz is absorbing as she playfully raises a baby as a caring single mother and kindly takes in a young teenage girl in a similar situation. However, Cruz also portrays Janis' intricate guilt over her unethical actions and how she hides her emotions. She is very complex in how she has experienced tremendous pain and how Cruz displays that inner struggle is beautiful. She is as effervescent in Parallel Mothers as she always appears drop dead gorgeous. I really loved seeing Penélope Cruz bring subtle and empathetic choices to her performance as the curious Janis. Her warmth and motherly personality fit Janis so beautifully. Milena Smit is fantastic as single mother Ana. Her traumatized single mother and teenage lesbian just trying to figure out her place in the world and her own sexuality is fascinating. Her every gaze with her translucent blue eyes is hypnotizing. I found Milena Smit incredibly nuanced and charming. Milena has an ethereal beauty and innocent face, while also capturing Ana's jealous insecurities and romantic openness. She ensures Ana is likable and kind so that you love her. Milena Smit delivers as impressive a dramatic performance as Penélope Cruz in Parallel Mothers. Israel Elejalde is excellent as cheating archeologist and absent father Arturo. You feel how lonesome and manipulative his character is as he is cheating on his wife with cancer. I cannot believe he gets to end up with Janis instead of Ana, which I thought would have been a much sweeter ending from Almodóvar. Aitana Sánchez-Gijón's cold acting mother Teresa feels understandable that she wanted a career as an actress, but so cruel in how she abandons her daughter to raise her granddaughter alone. Rossy de Palma's Elena feels so kind and open hearted. She's so supportive and understanding of Janis' situation and quickly offers help. She's very sweet. Ainhoa Santamaría's pretty blonde babysitter is quite sad. It's funny that she doesn't want to do anything, but you see how hurt she is when she's told she's no longer needed. Editor Teresa Font cuts Parallel Mothers in a steadily moving pace with coherent storytelling consideration. The complex narrative never gets lost on you during Parallel Mothers' 123 minutes. Cinematographer José Luis Alcaine has striking close-ups that get so close to faces, giving Parallel Mothers an intimate feel. He shoots with lovely framing and wide shots around production designer Antxón Gómez' cute and colorful sets. The lush reds and pleasant greens everywhere are as nice as the pops of orange or pink. Art director Alejandra Loiseau brings Almodóvar's vision to life with charming home designs and natural feeling spaces. Vicent Díaz' set decoration has the cutest furniture and props neatly placed all around Almodóvar's film. Composer Alberto Iglesias' score for Parallel Mothers is fabulous with suspenseful symphonic music ramping up tensions with the occasional jazz or Spanish theme tossed in there carefully. I love how alive and pretty Iglesias' score is for Parallel Mothers. You're always aware of its sonic presence as Iglesias' music is very tense and absorbing throughout Almodóvar's picture. Sound designers Marc Orts, Laia Casanovas, and Oriol Donat i Martos provide neat, subtle noises for each scene like Penélope's knife hitting the wooden cutting board and other daily ambient noises. Costume designer Paola Torres gives Penélope Cruz all these adorable, fuzzy sweaters and yoga pants that look wonderful on Cruz. Penélope always looks her best in Almodóvar's films, no doubt. I love the different hairstyles and pretty make-up. The short, silver haircut on Milena Smit's Ana is so lovely on her. I loved all the modern clothes and fresh style in Parallel Mothers. In the end, Parallel Mothers will be looked back on as another beautiful Spanish film from the mighty Pedro Almodóvar with all his usual charm, heart, and grace.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Intriguing and original story. Fabulous acting.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Despite the concept of child swap isn't a new theme, Almodóvar's work seen here is clearly outstanding, with Penelope's excellent performance fueling fire on top of it.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Always excited for a new Almodóvar film.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    I saw this movie yesterday, and I cannot stop thinking of it. I love the way Almodovar sees us. He truly loves women. Penelope Cruz is a brilliant actress. I loved every minute of the film and then the ending. Thank you, Pedro Almodovar. I love all of your movies. This is my second favorite. (First favorite is All About My Mother).