Rodrigo García, who showed great taste, restraint, and sensitivity in telling the intertwined lives of women in “Nine Stories” and “Things You Can Tell Just from Looking At Her” shows less of all three in the clunky, awkward “Mother and Child,” bringing together the stories of three women who struggle with loss as mothers and daughters.
Annette Bening is Karen, a hospital worker who is kind to patients and to her dying mother, but brusque to everyone else. She gave up a baby for adoption when she was 14, and she thinks of her constantly.
Kerry Washington is Lucy, happily married but unable to have a child. She and her husband are trying to adopt.
Naomi Watts is Elizabeth. She has excellent skills as a lawyer, but she is restless and never stays anywhere long. She is distant, self-contained, but something of a sexual predator, with a special thrill in messing with men who seem settled.
These three stories begin as separate and then weave together, echoing and underscoring the themes of maternal loss and longing. But Garcia’s gift for sketching in complete and complex characters eludes him here, and even these three extraordinary performers cannot rescue the story from soapy melodrama.
Parents should know that this film includes frank, graphic, and explicit sexual references and situations including adultery and some sex games, brief female nudity, very strong language, and disturbing themes of loss, infertility, and grief, and sad deaths.
Family discussion: What are the biggest challenges for adoptive families? How did each of the main characters try different ways to deal with their feelings of loss and emptiness?
If you like this, try: “Nine Lives” and “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her” from the same writer/director