It has been a long time since a movie has affected me so much, but once in a while, a movie such as Mother and Child — now available on DVD — comes along and stays with you long after it is over.
Annette Bening plays Karen, a woman who became pregnant at fourteen, but gave up her child for adoption. Karen is a physical therapist who also takes care of her elderly mother, but all the while she helps rebuild other people; she has put up such a wall that virtually no one can enter. Karen still wonders about the baby she let go, and wonders if she should make contact.
Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) is at the other end of the spectrum. She is an adopted child who has grown up to believe that her independence is the most important thing to her. She is a sexual person, seducing neighbors, and even her new boss (a terrific Samuel L. Jackson) but runs to a new town whenever she is forced to feel something beyond the superficial. That moment comes once again when Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and chooses to keep the baby.
The third story involves Lucy (Kerry Washington) a young woman looking to adopt her first child. She and her husband having been trying to have one on their own, but have not been successful. They both seem eager, but not all is well — especially after meeting a potential birth mother who seems to like Lucy, but for some reason is weary of her husband. As the due date comes closer, everyone involved must decide is they wish to continue.
All three actresses shine in their respective roles, and especially in the case of Bening and Watts, take characters that are not easy to like at first, and transform them into people we begin to care about. The supporting players are also strong, with Jimmy Smits turning in a warm, likeable performance as a love interest for Karen. Needless to say, I did not have a dry eye when the movie came to a close.
The DVD extras are pretty slim, but still worth a look, and include deleted scenes; Creating the Family Tree, which gives insight into why the filmmakers chose these particular actors to play their roles; and Universally Connected, a discussion by the cast and crew on the themes of the movie.
If you are a fan of great storytelling and tremendous acting, then Mother and Child is a definite must have for your collection. It is not an easy movie to watch by any means, but will truly move you by the film’s end.