Despite the fame and fortune she’s amassed in Hollywood, Spanish actress Penélope Cruz has not forgotten her roots and continues working in her mother tongue. This includes her collaboration with Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, which started before she made it big in Hollywood and continues to this day, resulting in two Oscar nominations for her work in his films, including his latest, Parallel Mothers.
Speaking of roots, Parallel Mothers is a film that deals with these in a most harrowing and poignant way. It’s one of the reasons you should be watching this incredible movie, which is now available on Showmax, but there are several more and the first one will likely take you by surprise.
You loved Inconceivable
First off, let us warn you that this reason centres on a major plot point. While the movie is about much more than this plot point, and it happens about a quarter way through (with hints dropped beforehand), you may want to skip ahead if you’re the kind of person who avoids any and all kinds of spoilers.
Inconceivable (which aired on M-Net in 2020 and is available on Showmax) is a story about two pregnant women who meet at a fertility centre. When their babies are born, the two newborns are switched. The same thing happens in Parallel Mothers. Why this happens and the fallout from the switch plays out in completely different ways in the series and movie, keeping you completely glued to both stories. But both focus heavily on motherhood, with Inconceivable exploring this theme in all forms, from not wanting to be a mother to going to any lengths to be one. Parallel Mothers focuses more on generational relationships and single mothers, which is hardly surprising since mothers are a favourite theme of Almodóvar’s, recurring throughout many of his films.
You love Pedro Almodóvar
Along with a fondness for female characters, and mothers in particular, Almodóvar loves collaborating with the same actors. This includes Antonio Banderas who, like Cruz, started working with Almodóvar before Hollywood came calling, works with him to this day, and landed his first Oscar nomination thanks to his work in the director's 2019 film, Pain and Glory. Of course, if you’re a fan already, you don’t need us telling you that. You’ll also notice the recurrence of several of the director’s other favourite themes and motifs such as focusing on identity, food, and making an ingenious use of colour … which brings us to our next reason.
You loved Recipes for Love and Murder
Okay, so these stories are very different, not least of which is that Recipes for Love and Murder is very genre-specific and Almodóvar’s work defies all labels. But the direction in Recipes, with its bold use of colours and gorgeous food-focused close-ups, is lovingly inspired by the work of the famed Spanish director. And if you want to learn how to make a Spanish omelette, watch Parallel Mothers.
Maybe you’ve never watched an Almodóvar film before, but if you love Alfred Hitchcock, you’ll notice that the Spanish director is a fan too. From Parallel Mothers’ slow fades to black to the Bernard Herrmann-like score, Almodóvar allows the master of suspense to guide him in keeping his audience on the edge of their seat as they wonder what Cruz’s character will do next.
But it’s not all about mothers or tension and suspense. Parallel Mothers touches profoundly on the horrors of the White Terror, a dark period of Spain’s history when General Franco culturally repressed his perceived enemies using any and all means, from burning books to executing thousands and burying them in mass graves. It is this history that starts the film, tying together all the threads of family until its moving ending.
Parallel Mothers is now available on Showmax. Stream it here.