With The Fighter being a possible exception, the best cast film I’ve seen from top to bottom to come out in the past 12 months has been Mother and Child. The film’s story is centered around three strong female performances: Annette Bening as a middle aged woman who gave up a child at 14 and is still haunted by the experience; Kerry Washington as a happily married middle class woman who can’t bear children of her own and goes through the ups and downs of the adoption process, and Naomi Watts as a career woman with no past, incapable of having a full emotional relationship but still more than capable of getting what she wants out of life.
While I wouldn’t necessarily call this film a ‘crowd pleaser’, I felt it was great for what it was about. You keep waiting for someone to overact but it never happens (in my opinion); with a multi-layered story you wait for some overly convenient circumstance to bring the parallel stories together (I wasn’t bothered at all by how that happens in this movie). I can’t say enough about the performance of the women in this film; between this film and The Kids Are All Right Annette Bening nailed two different characters who start as shrill and end up being very sympathetic. Kerry Washington plays maybe her most vulnerable character to date and draws you into the helplessness that comes with wanting something badly but recognizing it’s completely out of your control. And Naomi Watts just blew me away hitting all the emotions that you would expect from her character’s backstory: at times cold and distant, a touch of anger, a very strong sexuality, and a heavy level of distrust, in everybody. Ensemble movies are by design not carried by any one actor, but she comes pretty damn close.
Worth seeing if this one flew under your radar (as it did for me most of last year).