Parallel Mothers by Pedro Almodovar [5/10]

Pedro Almodovar’s latest stylish outing, “Parallel Mothers,” tackles a couple of themes close to his heart: feminist women taking charge of their lives; and the restoration of truth to the fates of unrecognized victims of the epochal Spanish Civil War. The first plotline follows a forty-year-old woman (played with great emotional resonance by Penelope Cruz) who unexpectedly falls pregnant at the age of forty and has a baby at the same time as a confused youngster (a star turn from Milena Smit), following their lives thereafter. It is a tale of heartbreak, joy, and paternity tests. Filmed with Almodovar’s customary care and rich lighting, this story takes up most of the film and seems to be building up to a dramatic conclusion. But the other plotline, the exhuming of our hero’s great-grandfather’s body from a village field, bookends the movie, and not only develops little heat but saps the mothers’ tale of resolution. Parallel Mothers is a warmly conceived and constructed film that falters just as it should be gearing up.

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