Parallel Mothers

Parallel Mothers ★★★★

Parallel Mothers is Almodovar's most emotionally potent work since Volver, and one of his most politically conscious works to date. It takes a veteran master like Almodovar to combine personal and national turmoils and hardship in such a shattering manner, and as an audience what else can you do but cry and applaud for its brilliance.

Chronicling two pregnant women's encounters and ensuing melodramas, Parallel Mothers continues Almodovar's trademark of messy feminist stories and strong, likable female characters. His frequent collaborator Penélope Cruz was the soul of the story, giving such a layered, emotionally shattering performance that's Oscar-worthy, to say the least. The relatively unknown Milena Smit was the ultimate surprise of the ensemble, providing an equally impressive, painfully edgy delivery as the other parallel mother.

Parallel Mothers is a women's story first and foremost, which is made extra clear by Cruz's unmistakable "WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS" T-shirt. At the same time, though, it's also a heartfelt love letter to Spain, to its dark history, and to the lost lives who might not have been recognized enough. When Almodovar wittily assigns the role of truth-tellers to his beloved band of strong women, the two worlds of loss he respects and loves the most collide in the most glorious manner. It's not his career-best story for sure, but who cares. Highly recommended.

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