Mother and Child


<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
<script type="text/javascript"

As a writer, Rodrigo Garcia loves working into his projects the rich themes of women and the deeply emotional moments they encounter throughout their lives. His Nine Lives, Babel, and Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her dealt with the gregarious nature women have towards life and the complexity of their every day emotional thoughts. His poignant Mother and Child is certainly no different. It explores the lives of three women and the power of the unbreakable bond they experience with their children.

Karen (Annete Bening) is a middle-aged, socially dysfunctional spinster and successful physical therapist who regrets having given up the baby daughter she had as a 15 year-old. She’s worn the anguish like a 100-pound yoke for more than 30 years.

Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) is a power attorney with an icy demeanor and no family ties to speak of. She was given up for adoption as a baby and reared by adoptive parents until she reached 17, at which time she set out on her own to build her career. Because of her age, we can guess at her birth ties to Karen, but what’s less predictable is the way Garcia reveals that relationship and whether or not either will find some measure of closure.

The third spoke on the maternal wheel is Lucy (Kerry Washington), who along with her husband Joseph (David Ramsey), is disappointed they can’t conceive a child. But they turn to a private Catholic adoption agency with hopes of completing their family.

Each of these three women takes turns playing mother or child at some point throughout the film, and around them revolve an ensemble cast of veteran actors whose characters are all beautifully intertwined in not so unexpected ways. But even though most of the relationships are figured out fairly early on, Garcia’s story remains fluid and natural while never completely tipping its hand. We figure out the basics of how it’ll all come together, but the joy of seeing it play out comes from watching the wonderful cast that shows us the innate bonds of those related by blood.

Bening’s Karen forms the most critical character of the film, needing to be angry and rugged, but also vulnerable and scared. Once she’s finally convinced by her husband, Paco (Jimmy Smits) to look for the daughter she gave up many years ago, she arcs from a bristly antagonist with dammed up emotions and off-putting demeanor, to a compassionate woman that we actually care for. A lesser actress could have wilted under the demands of the role, but Bening’s performance makes the role believable and hence, the film compelling.

Many viewers may struggle with trying to either fight or accept Mother and Child as some kind of message piece about adoption, abortion or even single parent motherhood. But Garcia’s serpentine story is really nothing more than a dramatic telling of the consequences of women getting pregnant and the way they’re innately equipped to handle all that that entails. For all intents and purposes, this film - with its many disparate threads and clashing personality types - should have been a complete mess. But the fine ensemble cast and Garcia's deft hand expertly demonstrate how the instinct of motherhood is woven into the fabric of woman. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry at what turns out to be Rodrigo Garcia’s finest work to date.

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 14, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English, English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live



  • Creating the Family Tree (1080p, 13:39)
  • Universally Connected (1080p, 15:37)

Deleted Scenes (1080p, 3:43)

Trailer and Previews:

  • 'Mother and Child' Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:10)
  • Previews (1080p): You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Tamara Drewe, Inside Job, Get Low, Micmacs, Please Give, and The Bridge on the River Kwai.