Motherhood under review: Parallel Mothers and The Lost Daughter

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For some motherhood comes naturally… for others it’s almost viewed as an imposition, a duty/ obligation which saps one’s energy and distracts one from seemingly more important tasks.

This week we look at two movies currently on circuit, namely Pedro Almadóva’s ‘Parallel Mothers’ (Madres Paralelas) and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s ‘The Lost Daughter’ (based Elena Ferrante’s novel). In the former Almadóva places the spotlight on two unmarried women in a labour ward and the ways in which they bond; and, in the latter Olivia Colman (Leda) sees herself as an “unnatural mother” with a selfish, hurtful mean streak totally inconsiderate of the pain her actions may inflict on others.

Parallel Mothers

Pedro Almadovar with his two leading ladies – Penelope Cruz (Janis) and Milena Smit (Ana)

Both films are totally engrossing as they delve into motherhood and its repercussions. Without giving too much away, let’s begins with Almadóva’s ‘Parallel Mothers’: Penélope Cruz takes on the role of Janis – an older woman whose pregnancy was an unexpected result of a romantic encounter. Is she pleased? Yes, indeed she is and she’s more than willing to bring up the child as an independent, single mother. On the other hand, Ana (Milena Smit) is an adolescent rape victim who is absolutely terrified of giving birth but isn’t willing to give up her child. As their lives intertwine a beautiful tapestry of interaction occurs intermingled with Janis’ search for the unmarked graves of the soldiers buried during the Spanish Civil War. Subtitled, magnificent viewing. Yet another Almadóva classic!


Penelope Cruz (Janis), Milena Smit (Ana), Israel Elejalde (Arturo), Aitana Sanchez-Gijon (Teresa – Ana’s mother)


The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal (centre), Olivia Colman (left) and Dakota Johnson (right) celebrate Maggie’s directorial debut

Maggie Gyllenhall’s directorial début ‘The Lost Daughter’ features Olivia Colman as Leda – a college professor whose love of ‘latin’ languages far outweighs her maternal instincts. Her holiday to Greece sends her on a trajectory into her past when a young girl disappears from the beach. Although, the child is found unharmed and returned to her mother (Dakota Johnson), she’s inconsolable because her doll is missing… we discover it’s been taken by Leda for reasons of her own. Whether it’s to punish the child for wandering off or the mother for her indiscretions or because it triggers memories… it’s for you to decide. An award-winning, heart-wrenching, psychological drama.


Olivia Colman (Leda), Jessie Buckley (Leda – young mother), Dakota Johnson (Nina), Ed Harris (Lyle), Peter Sarsgaard (Prof Hardy)



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