Sunday, July 18, 2010

Film Review:Mother and Child

I finally saw the movie Mother and Child.
And I have a few thoughts about it.

Annette Bening plays a 51-year-old single woman who gave up a baby girl for adoption when she was 14, and she has never recovered from that loss. She frequently writes letters, never sending them, to her daughter. She is bitter and isolated and doesn't want to let anyone into her life. Not even Jimmy Smits.

I would love to hear from you birth moms out there about how this character resonates with you and your experience. To me, Bening's character seems caricatured. She's our imaginary version of a birth mother: a woman who pines after her lost child, unable to think of much else, and who, when said child re-enters her life, suddenly lives in technicolor and becomes happy and satisfied with her life and all is right with the world.

Real reunions, of course, are much more nuanced than this.

Now, on to the adult adoptee character: Naomi Watts plays a beautiful, 37-year-old lawyer who is cold, manipulative, and creepily detached from any kind of emotional intimacy with other people. She seduces inappropriate men (married ones with pregnant wives, ones who are her boss), and casts them off indiscriminately. She has no friends, and has divorced herself from her adoptive family.

Ok, now, is this how the general public thinks of adult adoptees?

Overall, the portrayal of these two members of the adoption constellation seems ham-handed. I assume the director is trying to show us that adoption can cause a lot of grief, and that the secrecy and shame surrounding closed adoptions can compound that grief and wreak havoc on peoples' lives.

Yes. True.

But must we stereotype birth mothers and adult adopted women as unsympathetic, unsavory, super-yucky people? Who is this movie serving?

Your thoughts?


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coruscate said...
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coruscate said...

Without having seen it, I'm sure it is serving the producer's pocket book first.

Check out this review
and then this one

I think you would be better served by Bening in "The Kids are All Right".

It appears to be a good contrast to the tale of adoption central to the regular Harry Potter movie release though.

I think you might like this tale centered around adoption though:

July 20, 2010 4:32 PM

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LT said...

Just catching up on your blog, Andrea and felt like I had to say something. Your writing is so wonderful and important. I hope your 'writing retreat' is going well and I hope you've found your writing energy to keep you going. A lot of people need to hear what you have to say.

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Andrea said...

Thanks, Lori! It means a lot to me to hear that from you.

JBH said...

I'm so glad that you saw this movie and reviewed it. In an earlier post on my blog, I wasn't sure I had the courage to go see it...looked too intense for me.

But, now, after reading your review, I realize that it was not the intensity...but the negativity that may have put me off. It's a shame that they only took one side of the complexity of adoption.

We (folks touched by adoption) are not all unsympathetic people! Quite the contrary, in my experience.

Thanks for posting this...keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

happy to read~ thank you!............................................................