One of the nominated films for best foreign film at the Oscars, it again demonstrates that foreign films are well worthy of watching. Not sure what to expect and as usual Pedro Almodovar brought in some unexpected elements including paternity testing and the Spanish Civil War.
Two women are brought together as they both give birth at the same time. They part, but are brought together in one case with Janis needing someone to take care of her baby. Gradually we learn a little bit more about each of them as they lean on one another. A complication comes when Arturo, the father of Janis's baby says he doesn't think the baby is his. She is insulted and breaks off the relationship. But she decides to check through a paternity service and is shocked that she is not the mother. Obviously somehow the baby's got switched. When she was going to tell Ana, she learned that her baby had died.
Arturo had excuse to maintain contact with Janis as he was arranging for her grandfather to be disinterred from a war grave. The Grandfather had been involved in the Spanish Civil War and was executed. It turns out there are many such graves.
It has a sort of happy ending, but I will avoid any further details.
What makes this a good movie are the cast and crew behind it.
Pedro Almodovar is internationally famous as a director and writer, but got his start without going to film school which were closed by Franco. He saved money until he could afford a Super 8 camera. He did short films and became well known in a counter culture. He won an Oscar for writing "Habla con Ella" (2003) plus numerous awards at film festivals around the world. In his 2009 film (Broken Embraces) there was seen a poster for "Madres paralelas" (Parallel Mothers) as he had already started working on the cncept. Other film credits include "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988) that was a breakthrough artistically and financially, "Matador" (1986),"Tie Me Up! Tie me Down" (1989), "Bad Education" (2004), "Volver" (2006), "The Skin I live In" 2011), "Julieta" (2016) and "Pain and Glory" (2019).
Alberto Iglesias provided the music which was nominated for an Oscar, one of 4. His films include "The Dancer Upstairs" (2002), "The Constant Gardner" (2005), "Volver," (2006), "The Kite Runner" (2007), "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (2011), "Ma Ma" (2015), and "Julieta" (2016).
Jose Luis Alcaine was in charge of cinematography. He was the first cinematographer to use fluorescent tube as key lighting in the 1970's. His film credits include: "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988), "Tie Me up! Tie Me Down" (1989), "Belle Epoque" (1992),
Teresa Font did the editing. Her film credits go back to 1977. She won a Goya award for "Pain and Glory" (2019).
Penelope Cruz played the lead character. She speaks Spanish and English and learned Italian for a movie role and later won an Italian award. She has also been in French movies, but not speak the language. She and her husband Javier Bardem have both won an Oscar and been nominated for others. Some of her film credits include: "Open Your Eyes" (1997), "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" (2001), "Volver" (2006), "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008), "To Rome with Love" (2012),"Ma Ma" (2015), "Everybody Knows" (2018) and "Pain and Glory" (2019). Before her marriage she had relationships with Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey.
Milena Smit played the other lead. Her character changed dramatically from being morose when we first met her to much more confident later. There was a major change in hair color and style to emphasize the change. She has been in films since 2018.
Israel Elejaide played Arturo, an archaelogist who fathered Janis's daughter. His denial of paternity caused the plot to take a turn. He has been in films since 1999.
Altana Sanchez-Gijon played Ana's mother as a selfish and set on developing her acting career despite her daughter's dilemma. Altana has been in films since 1986 including at least two American films. She was president of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1998 to 2000. Also in 2000 she was a jury member at Cannes.
Rossy de Palma played the closest friend to Janis. Rossy was actually discovered by Pedro Almodovar in a cafe. She has appeared in many of Pedro's films including "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988), "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" (1989), "Broken Embraces" (2009) and "Julieta" (2016). She also sings and models. She is fluent in French, English, Spanish and Catalan.
If you are familiar with Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz their marks are all over this film. If you are not familiar, it is probably time you checked out what the fuss is all about.
Movies I have seen are bolded for the first mention.