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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rodrigo García
Cast:
Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Eileen Ryan, Cherry Jones, Kerry Washington, David Ramsey
Writing Credits:
Rodrigo García

Synopsis:
From writer-director Rodrigo Garcia (TV'S Big Love) and executive producer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel) comes the moving story of three women and the power of the unbreakable bond between mother and child. Three women's lives share a common core: the have all been profoundly affected by adoption. Karen (Annette Bening) placed a baby for adoption at age 14 and has been haunted ever since by the daughter she never knew. Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) grew up as an adopted child; she's a bright and ambitious lawyer, but a flinty loner in her personal life. Lucy (Kerry Washington) and her husband are just embarking on the adoption odyssey, hoping for the opportunity to become parents.

Box Office:
Budget
$7 million.
Opening Weekend
$43.040 thousand on 4 screens.
Domestic Gross
$1.110 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Stereo
English Descriptive Video
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $38.96
Release Date: 12/14/2010

Bonus:
• “Creating the Family Tree” Featurette
• “Universally Connected” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Mother And Child [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 13, 2010)

In 2010’s Mother and Child, we take a look at the maternal relationship, with an emphasis on adoption. The film follows three different situations. In a prologue, 14-year-old Karen (Alexandria Salling) goes all the way, gets pregnant, and gives up the child for adoption.

From there the movie jumps ahead 37 years and introduces us to adult Karen (Annette Bening), a woman left scarred by her teenage experiences. She never married and she now lives with her elderly mother (Eileen Ryan). Karen remains bitter about the way her life turned out, and that gives her a prickly personality, a factor that gets in the way of a potential romance with co-worker Paco (Jimmy Smits).

Next we meet Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), a career-oriented attorney whose 14-year-old biological mother gave her up for adoption 37 years ago. (Hmm – sounds familiar!) She gets a new job and launches an affair with her boss Paul (Samuel L. Jackson). She also has other sexual flings that seem to define her closed-off, elusive personality.

Finally, Lucy (Kerry Washington) and her husband Joseph (David Ramsey) can’t conceive on their own, so they pursue a child via adoption. This sends them to tough-minded Ray (Shareeka Epps), a pregnant college student with many demands about the family that adopts her baby.

With a title like Mother and Child, the potential for Lifetime Channel treacle seems high. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I requested this Blu-ray for review; I guess something about the press release caught my attention, as a “chick flick” of this sort wouldn’t normally be anywhere near my movie collection.

Happily, Child delivered something more satisfying than the usual basic cable weepfest, though I can’t say that it diverges from that path in a tremendous manner. What makes Child different than the standard drama of this sort? Two things: complexity and cast.

I think the actors are the primary factor that elevates the material, though. We find a surfeit of talent here, and that includes plenty of recognizable names I didn’t mention in my synopsis. Child finds itself in a position where folks like David Morse and Amy Brenneman can show up in brief – though important – roles. With such a deep cast, it becomes inevitable that the film benefits.

All of the main actors do well in their roles, and they are another reason the movie refuses to wallow in sentiment. In lesser hands, most of the characters would come across as soap opera personalities, but that doesn’t occur here. I especially like Bening’s turn as Elizabeth; she’s not afraid to create an unlikable character, though she also avoids easy “steel bitch” stereotypes.

In terms of complexity, at times Child does play like “Crash with Adoptions”. I don’t want to give away too many plot points, but rest assured that the paths of all three lead women will cross in various ways, and some of these stretch credulity.

But not as absurdly as they did in Crash. That movie really pushed the boundaries of logic, whereas Child simply slaps those limits a little. Are the film’s connections rather convenient? Yes, but we can buy them; they’re not of the eye-rolling sort seen in Crash.

Child does lose points for a few reasons, some of which stem from its shadowy depiction of men. Yes, I understand that the film is titled Mother and Child, not Mom and Dad and Baby Makes Three, but I still think it could’ve done more with its male characters. While I’m happy that all the guys are vaguely nice and the movie doesn’t demonize the dudes – which seems to usually be the case in the “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar, You Oppressive Male Motherpusbucket!” genre – I would’ve liked to see a bit more personality from them. They exist on the movie’s periphery, and it suffers for that.

I also feel Child goes off-track for a while after its midpoint. For the first hour or so, it proceeds at a deliberate pace that creates an intriguing mood and portrait of its characters. Eventually, however, it appears that the filmmakers realized that if they didn’t move things along, the flick would run about 17 hours, so they accelerated time.

That’s good for our sanity – dunno about you, but I didn’t really want a 17-hour version of Child - but it does disrupt the tale’s flow. The film turns more conventional, and the characters start to become more trite. This doesn’t turn into a fatal flaw, but it means that the movie loses some steam and begins to fall into genre traps.

That said, I still think Child stands above most of its peers. Sure, it provokes an emotional response, and it can be manipulative. Nonetheless, it provides some fine performances and usually earns our feelings. I wouldn’t call it a total success, but it’s certainly more compelling than the average drama of this sort.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus D+

Mother and Child appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was an inconsistent thought usually positive presentation.

My main complaints related to sharpness during interior scenes, as those tended to be somewhat soft and tentative. At first I thought this related mostly to shots of Naomi Watts, but it affected others as well. Despite those light concerns, most of the movie showed good delineation. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. I saw no signs of source flaws in this clean presentation.

Colors were fine. The movie went with a fairly natural palette that favored a mild amber tint. Overall, the hues looked full and rich. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows demonstrated good clarity. The mild softness created some distractions, but the majority of the flick appeared positive.

One shouldn’t expect sonic fireworks from a character piece such as Child, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack remained subdued. The mix featured good stereo music and light environmental information but little more substantial than that. The surrounds played a minor role at best, so don’t expect much from them. If anything even vaguely memorable cropped up here, it went by quickly and I missed it.

At least audio quality was good. Speech appeared natural and concise, with no problems on display. Music sounded vivid and full, and effects were perfectly acceptable. As noted, they rarely offered anything to make them stand out from the crowd, but they worked fine. I thought this was a pretty average track without any qualities that allowed it to impress.

Only a few extras show up here. Creating the Family Tree goes for 13 minutes, 39 seconds, and features comments from writer/director Rodrigo Garcia, producers Julie Lynn and Lisa Maria Falcone, director of photography Xavier Perez Grobet, and actors Naomi Watts, Samuel L. Jackson, Annette Bening, Jimmy Smits, and Kerry Washington. “Creating” looks at the story and characters, development issues, cast and performances, cinematography and editing. A few insights appear here, but “Creating” stays awfully general, so don’t expect it to offer much more than a recap of the film.

During the 15-minute, 37-second Universally Connected, we hear from Garcia, Lynn, Falcone, Grobet, Bening, Smits, Watts, and Washington. This one discusses characters, themes, camerawork and performances. Like “Creating”, it throws out a smattering of interesting thoughts, but much of it feels intended as a promotional exercise – and a weird one, since both featurettes include a lot of spoilers. The two programs remain watchable, but they don’t give us many useful observations.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of three minutes, 43 seconds. These include “She Wanted to Look For Her” (1:32), “How Did You Get Pregnant?” (1:29) and “Tell Me What You Remember” (0:41). “Look” expands on the father of Elizabeth’s baby, while “Pregnant” talks more about how the mother to Lucy’s adoptive baby got into that condition. Finally, “Remember” has a little anecdote about Elizabeth’s mother. The last two are worthwhile trims, but “Look” probably should’ve made the cut, if just because it gives David Morse’s character a little more impact.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Inside Job, Get Low and Made in Dagenham. More promos appear under Previews; there we find Tamara Drewe, Micmacs, Please Give and The Bridge on the River Kwai. The disc also throws in the trailer for Child.

Though the film has its flaws, I think Mother and Child manages to provide a reasonably engaging character drama. Much of the appeal stems from its fine cast, as they add depth to the piece. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture, ordinary sound, and a small roster of supplements. For fans of this sort of piece, the film should satisfy, though a rental seems most appropriate; with a list price of nearly $39, only the movie’s most ardent fans will want to own it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main