It's fitting that writer-director Rodrigo Garcia (Looking at Her and Nine Lives) has teamed up with executive producer/filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams and Babel) — both are proponents of complex, multi-threaded narratives that interweave in dramatic fashion. Garcia's latest tells the story of three California women (played by the capable trio of Annette Bening, Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts) dealing with issues pertaining to, as the title overtly suggests, mothers and children.
Like Inarritu's collaborations with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, Garcia tends to tie his narratives up a little too neatly.
But, unlike the former pair, his smaller canvases and spare directorial style tend to be more convincing. Garcia is more interested in letting his actors carry the drama, in giving them a platform to inhabit characters not often found in American cinema these days: everyday people and families dealing with everyday issues.
Bening, Washington and Watts revel in the material, each grounding their characters' melodramatic possibilities. And check out Samuel L. Jackson, who in a supporting role does his best, most subtle work in years. Grade: B-plus
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