A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
History shouldn't be forgotten. Families pass down important memories about one another and their communities. Women care for each other and their families. Motherhood/family is more than biology. It's important to know and tell the truth, even when it's difficult.
Positive Role Models
Two women support each other through the challenges of childbirth and child rearing. One faces a difficult truth she has uncovered; it's not easy for her to do the right thing, and she makes plenty of mistakes, but she knows why she has to. The women of a rural village band together to find a way to uncover a mass grave dating back to the start of Spain's Civil War.
The film was made in Spain and filmed in Spanish; most characters are White. Female characters drive the story and have agency. A woman says a baby looks increasingly "ethnic." Two women have an intimate relationship.
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Violence & Scariness
(Potential spoiler alerts!) A baby dies (SIDS) and is mourned. A young woman recalls having been blackmailed to have sex with two men who threatened to release a non-consensual sex video that she's in; her friend correctly names this as rape. A woman vomits after an emotionally difficult situation. Skeletons and artifacts are uncovered in a decades-old mass grave. Two women go through the pain of childbirth. A woman mentions her depression.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple having sex is uncovered from the waist up; viewers see a man's back and both participants' faces. Later, two different characters have sex; they kiss and remove their shirts (no explicit nudity) and are both in underwear; oral sex is suggested. Couples kiss. Cheating. A woman is topless in a photograph.
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"Screw," "pissed," "damn," "whore." The film was reviewed in Spanish with English subtitles.
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Products & Purchases
Apple, YVL, Lancome, Chanel, Canon, Miu Miu, Baby Bjorn products/labels seen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine and liquor at home and in bars. Women smoke cigarettes. Mention of a "junkie" and a mother dying of an overdose at age 27. A woman recalls a party where she was drunk and on pills. A woman takes a tranquilizer to sleep.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Parallel Mothers is a drama from renowned Spanish director Pedro Almódovar. It has mature themes about motherhood and the lasting scars of war, as well as some sexual content, drinking, smoking, and language, but it's pretty reserved compared to other Almodóvar films. Two women persevere through painful childbirth, one makes a disturbing discovery about her baby, and (spoiler alert) the other loses her child to SIDS. A woman recalls having been blackmailed to have sex with two men; her friend correctly labels this as rape. Skeletons and artifacts are exhumed from a decades-old mass grave, and wartime atrocities are discussed. Two different couples have sex; oral sex is suggested, but there's no explicit nudity. Adults drink wine and liquor at home and in bars; some smoke cigarettes. There's mention of a "junkie" and a woman dying of an overdose at age 27. A character recalls a party where she was drunk and on pills, and a character takes a tranquilizer to sleep. Language in the English subtitles includes "screw," "pissed," "damn," and "whore." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Guided by exceptional performances from the film's mostly female cast, this melodrama from Spanish maestro Pedro Almódovar blends many of his usual touchstones with a distinct social justice message. Cruz is hypnotic as Janis in Parallel Mothers. Some aspects of her look and the setting/set design, characterized by the director's usual red-led primary tones, are reminiscent of other performances she's given for him, including 2019's Pain and Glory and 2006's Volver. But this time Cruz is largely understated as a woman who uncovers a deeply painful truth and has to muster the courage to face it. Her story is paralleled by another involving the excavation of a Civil War-era mass grave, part of a political and social movement in Spain to reconcile, rather than ignore, harrowing historical facts.
In typical Almodóvar fashion, several narrative strands merge together, though a couple of scenes in the film's climax (especially one in which Cruz lectures her young lover about Spanish history) feel overly scripted. As usual, the director wraps the story around a support network of female characters. For good measure, he puts Cruz in a "We should all be feminists" T-shirt and gives her a romantic relationship with youthful co-star Smit. Aitana Sánchez Gijón is also memorable in her role as a remorseful mother; she delivers a riveting monologue straight to camera in a scene involving a play rehearsal. This homage to the theater is just one of many directorial trademarks that Almodóvar fans will appreciate. Madrid is also on glorious display, as are Spanish cuisine staples like the tortilla de patatas -- Almodóvar certainly knows how to package his country, but he doesn't let its many contradictions off the hook.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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