Parallel Mothers

Parallel Mothers ★★★★

Almodóvar is back in theaters with, stop me if you've heard this before, a brightly colored soapy melodrama starring Penélope Cruz. Like most of his films it's messy, ambitious, and wholly absorbing. Without getting into the soapy surprises the setup is simple enough with two single mothers in very different places in their lives giving birth simultaneously. The film expands over the runtime both in plot complexity and in thematic interests, only some of which feel inextricably tied to the main story. You've got a lot about motherhood, family lost and found, and relationships that all come naturally. Lurking in the background though is a fascination with generational trauma left over from the Spanish Civil War that only fully comes into focus in the last act. It's like all the melodrama is just a roundabout way for Almodóvar to get back to this but it works better in practice than it sounds on paper. I imagine it will be the most polarizing part of the film but it almost always felt in control to me and totally engrossing.