7/10 Writer/director Pedro Almodóvar is reunited with his muse, Penélope Cruz in a strikingly original film about motherhood. A film I originally wasn’t excited to see due to the underwhelming trailer, I gave this film a chance due to the Oscar nomination that Cruz received (as well as in Best Original Score) and you can never discount an Almodóvar film from the possibility of garnering great acclaim. Upon seeing the film, I am glad I did. While not perfect, the story is one of the most original of 2021 and I was hooked from start to finish. Despite being two hours long, the pacing works well and the film constantly shifts around (while remaining interconnected) so you will be invested the entire time. Cruz and her co-lead Milena Smit both give terrific performances and I wish both would have received Academy Award nominations, not just Cruz. The script is rather deep and full of…parallels, for lack of a better word. The story follows our two leading ladies who, with completely different circumstances, give birth on the same day. After a series of events, they remain deeply interconnected and entwined as mothers and much more. All of this while a handsome forensic archaeologist Arturo (Israel Elejalde) helps dig up a grave from the Spanish Civil War for a community that Cruz is part of. The score is well done and the direction is strong with no scenes feeling like filler or fluff to pad the running time. Characters are well developed and have full arcs, feeling genuine. The importance of family, your past and relative’s dying wishes being respected, all of which are pillars in many Hispanic communities shines through with great respect. As for my complaints, the film jumps around a little too much at the beginning which felt unnecessary and a romantic relationship that pops up later in the film felt a little cliché at times before eventually fizzling out. Despite these hiccups, the script is rather strong, the performances phenomenal across the board and the story moves in exciting and unexpected ways from beginning to end. While not the most memorable film of 2021, if you are a fan of foreign films that tackle complex themes of motherhood, life, death, acceptance, trauma and more, this film might be worth parallel parking so you can get to the theater to check this out.

#CradleToTheGrave / #DownToAFineArturo / #AllAboutMyMother2 / #CruzinForALosin / #DissMaid / #SpainAndGlory

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