Mother and Child




This 2010 movie, with a stellar cast (Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Kerry Washington among others), tells a moving story of three women and the power of the unbreakable bond between mother and child.

Three women’s lives share a common core: they have all been profoundly affected by adoption. Karen (Bening) placed a baby for adoption at age 14 and has been haunted ever since by the daughter she never knew. Elizabeth (Watts) grew up as an adopted child. She’s a bright and ambitious lawyer, but a loner in her personal life. Lucy (Washington) and her husband are just embarking on the adoption odessey of hoping for the opportunity to become parents.

This is a drama for grown-ups.

Karen is a very complicated person.  She’s very sensitive but  also very prickly, and sometimes, outwardly, even rude.She’s built up a kind of shell as a way of coping with the world, like lots of us do. Which isn’t working. She doesn’t want to let anybody in. We all know that feeling. It’s really traumatising to have a child out there and she wants to put a Band-Aid over it, like a scab.

Elizabeth is an outwardly hardened character who protects herself a lot, against the things that might hurt her. On one hand, she sees herself as a little girl of incredible candor, purity and innocence. She’s been very badly hurt and is someone who has real abandonment issues. That’s why she’s constantly on the run, walking the tightrope between the hardness of what her life has been, and what it’s made of her, and the possibility of who she can be for her own children, and her own relationships.

Lucy feels that not being able to get pregnant was a personal failure. She is an African-American who is accomplished and smart and has, seemingly, a picture-perfect life but there’s this thing that’s out of control, and it causes the rest of her lilfe to become unravelled. No matter what she’s done, she hasn’t been able to conceive. We feel her pain and her longing.

This movie takes a look at the emotions of these characters and the impact that certain events had on their lives. Ultimately, it is about how we see ourselves and with our families. Relationships with mothers, with children and with spouses (“significant others”) combine to form what their relationship to life is. Very few of us are all heroes; very few of us are all villians. We all have something absurd about us as well.

We are always connected. We don’t always feel it, or sense it, and sometimes we are not even aware of the connection that we have. We are just busy living our own lives and getting on with things, but this movie really highlights the fact that we are all interconnected. and every house, on every block, there is a drama going on, and there’s a story happening, and there’re people falling in love and people dying, and people losing others and finding others, and children growing up and parents letting go.

There is this relationship in life that is universal and common: Everybody has a mother, and a lot of people have children. We must acknowledge how precious and magical that relationship is. It reminds us not to take for granted the immense sharing that goes on between mothers and their children. No matter the circumstances, we have to create our own family. Life is not perfect.

These are serious issues but not dealt with in a serious way. There are scenes that are funny, hilarious, absurd, goofy and even bizarre. There’s a lot of humanity in it.



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