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Mother and Child


Stars: Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Samuel L Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Cherry Jones, Marc Blucas, Kerry Washington, David Ramsey, Elpidia Carrillo, Carla Gallo, Eileen Ryan

Director: Rodrigo Garcia

Those with long attention spans should enjoy this emotional drama, though it's not difficult to see why it's spent a couple of years sitting on the shelf: some may find it makes too many demands on their stamina.

Bening, excellent as always, plays a Scrooge-like character, ageing, embittered, bad-tempered, still looking after her ailing mother (Ryan), and forever agonising over the baby girl she gave up for adoption 37 years earlier when she was 14.

The 'baby' is Elizabeth (Watts), a successful, unmarried and highly promiscuous lawyer who conducts her love affairs in short order and with strict regimentation, seducing in quick succession the head of her firm (Jackson) and her next-door-neighbour (Blucas) while his pregnant wife's away.

Rather more accessible to us, the audience, if over-voluble, is Lucy (Washington), who is trying with husband Joseph (Ramsey) to adopt a baby, somewhat to the (justified) scepticism of her mother (Law and Order's long-serving S Epatha Merkerson).

You might see where this is headed, but, despite heartfelt performances - Bening couldn't give a bad one if she tried - it is heavy-going at times (though not as heavy as Smits, as the new man in her life, who has gained weight considerably since his days in TV's NYPD Blue). The dialogue, though it means well, is sometimes over-literary and occasionally even flowery. The film is, however, well-plotted, with the occasional (jolting) surprise, and all threads neatly tied together at the end

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Verve. Colour by efilm.
126 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Jan 2012