[REVIEW] ‘Parallel Mothers’ or All About 2 Mothers

When I first started The Criterion Project with my friend Conrado one of the first movies we reviewed was All About My Mother by famed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, and I really enjoyed it. Almodóvar is great at creating compelling characters while adding his artistic flair. There are still many of his films I have not seen but I enjoyed All About My Mother, Talk to Her, Pain and Glory, and last year’s short The Human Voice.

Now we finally have Almodóvar‘s latest film Parallel Mothers out in theaters. I wish I could have included it in my end of the year lists and videos but the studio was slow in getting me a screener. Now I’ve seen it, and I not only enjoyed but think it is one of Almodóvar’s most approachable, entertaining films. You don’t have to be an indie viewer to enjoy Parallel Mothers. It’s a good story with great performances and engaging characters.

Penélope Cruz stars as Janis a middle-aged new Mother who shares a hospital room while giving birth with a teenage mom named Ana (Milena Smit). The 2 single Mothers become involved in an unexpected way and their bond is both powerful and painful. Almodóvar does a fantastic job making both women believable, easy to root for and yet frustrating at the same time. They are layered, emotionally true characters and both performances are Oscar-worthy.

Some may want something more daring from Almodóvar but I appreciated a more approachable film that is less challenging. You could almost describe Parallel Mothers as a thriller at times. It’s a very well done script. If it’s playing near you definitely check out this cinematic gem from 2021.

8.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Current Mini Reviews

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well (or at least as well as can be expected during this crazy time). I have certainly been hard at work both watching and creating content. I am so blessed to be able to do what I do.

While I would love to be a full time critic I am extremely blessed to be able to write/create my reviews and be a part-time corporate blogger for the rest of my job. However I don’t only post to this site. Recently I have reviewed:

For Backseatdirectors


Made in Italy/Chemical Hearts

The Rental

For Rotoscopers

H is for Happiness


Rachel’s Reviews

Secret Society of Second Born Royals


I’ve also been doing a lot of fun stuff on both of my podcasts Rachel’s Reviews and Hallmarkies Podcast (and more) and some cool videos on my youtube channel like my first ever Tier Ranking video!

On to the Mini Reviews

With that out of the way let’s share some mini reviews!

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles

Fans of the Food Network and Top Chef will enjoy this documentary that follows famed chef Yotam Ottolenghi as he puts on an event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in honor of Versailles. Ottolenghi assembles his crackpot team of eccentric bakers and jello-makers (yes you read right) and their artistic process is fascinating and a lot of fun to watch. I particularly liked chef Dinara Kasko as she fights for her pastry vision from a pushy man who wants her to take the easy way out.

Where Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles doesn’t work as well is in the final act change in messaging. It feels tagged on after so much excess and opulence the entire movie to all the sudden have a social conscience. Not everything has to have a message or speak to the injustices of our time. It’s fine to have one documentary that is just about escapist cakes. No more.

Still it’s a fun movie and available in theaters and on demand.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Give or Take

One trend I’ve noticed over the last few years is lots of movies about the male experience and in particular unlikely male friendships. Whether it be an Oscar winner like Green Book or smaller films like To Dust or Papi Chulo we seem to be fascinated as a culture with men and their friendships. Now we have the latest in this trend with the indie film Give or Take and for the most part it works quite well.

Give or Take tells the story of an estranged son (Jamie Effros) who comes home to bury his father and struggles to get along with his father’s spouse Ted (Norbert Leo Butz- who I’ve enjoyed since his Broadway days and they almost let him sing in this!). The film explores themes of forgiveness, loss and what moving on means. The comic relief from people like Cheri Oteri is less effective and the relationship between Martin and his former flame Emma (Joanne Tucker) didn’t really work for me. Still, if you are up for a small, low budget drama it’s worth a watch.

6.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Stars and Strife

With the current political climate being a continual cess pool of despair and depravity I was honestly quite hesitant to watch the new documentary Stars and Strife. Political documentaries very easily veer into the propaganda camp and are more for building up the ideology of the ardent believers than for making persuasive arguments.

Well, color me shocked when Stars and Strife actually turned out to be a hopeful film examining our current condition and how we might be able to dig our way out. It might be too optimistic for some people but in this day and age I will take a little hope where I can get it. It’s also very even-handed with people who worked in Bush and Obama administrations weighing in. This film is available on STARZ and to rent VOD.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

The Human Voice

Right now as part of the New York Film Festival you can have a special film festival type experience right from your own laptop. The great Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar has made a one-woman short with Tilda Swinton during quarantine and it’s a delight to watch. In addition, with your purchase you get an interview with Swinton and Almodóvar, which includes a passionate speech from the director about getting back to the big screen experience as soon as we possibly can.

The short The Human Voice is ”freely based” on the Jean Cocteau play La voix humaine and is about a woman waiting for her ex to pick up his things and dog in their apartment but he never comes. Both the dog and woman are abandoned and angry yet it is very fun to watch. I love the way Almodóvar uses color and Swinton is fantastic. It captures the sense of isolation we’ve all been feeling lately and is definitely cathartic to watch.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

4 movies today all smile worthy! I love when that happens. What have you been watching? Any recommendations?

Blind Spot 7: Talk to Her

talk to her4This month for my Blind Spot series I happened to pick a Spanish film without knowing I would be visiting Spain in July. Isn’t that a crazy coincidence? Anyway, I decided to look at Pedro Almodovar’s 2002 Academy Award winning film Talk to Her. It’s a moving, intriguing, weird film that definitely won’t be for everyone, but I’m glad I saw it.

talk to herIt’s a pretty simple story about 2 men, Marco and Benigno who fall in love with strong women who end up in comas. They then care for the comatose women but it’s what Almodovar does with that basic story that makes it interesting.

On the surface what these men are doing is really quite lovely.  They are caring selflessly for women in a coma.  How can that be anything but good? Well, that’s where the line between love and obsession come in. Especially Benigno begins to fantasize  what his life with Alicia is like and that she is responding to his advances.  He imagines this fantasy existence and even says at one point that his relationship is better than most other married couples.

talk-to-her_03There is something decidedly creepy about the way he cares for Alicia which is an intriguing element to the story.

Marco has more of a backstory with his love Lydia who was a bullfighter and is injured in the rink. He is a very emotional man and often takes what others are feeling upon himself. This makes his responses to Alicia, Benigno and Lydia very interesting. Dario Grandinetti as Marco is the standout of the film. He’s a type of man you don’t often see in the movies- sensitive to a fault.

talk to her3The cool thing that Almodovar does is he never really judges either men. You can tell he feels sorry for all involved. They are all weak- whether it is a weak mind or body, and human weakness is sad for Almodovar. Benigno takes his obsession to a disturbing place and it just shows how the human brain can create false narratives to justify our own poor choices.

talk to her2Talk to Her is definitely not for everyone. There is nudity in the film but most of it is non-sensual while the women’s bodies are being cared for. However, there is a fantasy sequence involving a silent movie that is truly bizarre. I can’t really explain it but just know it is out there and is explicit! It was too much for me to be honest but it was brief.

talk to her5If you want to watch a film showing a unique side of masculinity and can handle something that is different I recommend watching Talk to Her.  It earns its R rating but it is a thoughtful unique depiction of that line between love and obsession.

I feel like a movie such as this would never win best screenplay now. What do you think?

Overall Grade- B+

Here is the trailer