Reviewed Mar 11, 2012
Leighton Trent’s review:
First, I think the greatest strength of this film is that a man wrote it. After watching it, I found that fact (and the film) twice as powerful. The connection that a mother and her child have is something a man can never understand and Rodrigo Garcia attempts here is, thus, very brave. What he presents is sort of an ensemble piece of threads that connect over time until they come whole at the end. It's hits home, being as true to sentiment as possible. The three leading women are stellar, each with a different form of both a woman and a mother. The way he presents the three of them, with wonderful qualities, and equally hard, unpleasant qualities, makes each character, and the story, well-rounded, believable, and true-to-life. Annette Bening is much better here than in her Oscar-nominated performance in The Kids Are All Right. Though this character is cut from the same veil that a lot of her other screen-characters have, you still feel her subtlety coming out within the character, adding little bits here and there, making her character come alive; there's a certain small emotional additive she brings to the table that a lot of women can't manage. Kerry Washington, playing a woman who desperately wants to be a mother, breaks your heart here. It's simply on her that we have to understand how much her character wants a baby and her nuanced turn (i.e. an abruptly smile, trying to make the situation alright) provides that. Finally, Naomi Watts may have the most complicated character, considering her character's past and that she's generally unlikable. Though she plays that perfectly, it's when she realizes she's going to be a mother that we start to soften, as she does, and that's when Watts really nails it.
Honestly, there were times when I felt like my emotions were being pushed in a certain direction, but because of the uniform greatness of everything else going on, I guess a little melodrama never hurt anyone. Here, I believe it enhances, rather than takes away. How else, without going past the point of believable emotions, can you get to the heart of a relationship of a mother and the child that comes from her?