Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Parallel Mothers

Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers plays upon the concept of “separated at birth.” Instead of Plautus’s Twin Menaechmi or Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, the plot concerns two babies switched in the maternity ward where their mothers Janis (Penelope Cruz), a photographer and Ana (Milena Smit), a teenager who waitresses, share a room and become friends. Janis walks away with Cecily who's Ana’s baby and Ana with Anita who’s Janis’s child. Ana loses the baby she thinks is hers to crib death as Janis continues to care for Cecily. It’s the forensic archeologist Arturo (Israel Elejaide) the father of Anita who realizes Cecily is not theirs. It’s a tragedy in the making which earns a resolution right out of the pages of the convention it enjoys. But it's the theme of identification that's originally brought Arturo and Janis together. The two are seeking to unearth the remains of loyalists killed during the Franco era. The bodies have disappeared like those of Argentina’s "desaparecidos." The epigragh for Parallel Mothers comes from the Uruguayan  journalist Eduardo Galeano, “Human history refuses to shut its mouth.” The problem is that the tale of the mismatched babies fundamentally lacks the gravitas to function as a metaphor for the film's dark discovery. Is Roman Comedy genocidal? The  message of Parallel Mothers which is collective and political is trivialized by the almost farcical  machinations that undergird the plot. 

read "Ultimate Rejection!" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and watch the animation of Erotomania

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