Penélope Cruz in ‘Parallel Mothers’ deserves another Oscar
Penélope Cruz could receive her second Oscar for her role in Pedro Almodóvar parallel mothers, more than 10 years after winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Cruz plays Janis (named after Janis Joplin) in Parallel mothers, who lives in Madrid. A professional photographer, Janis has an unplanned pregnancy and ends up sharing a hospital room with teenage mother Ana (Milena Smit) just before they are both ready to give birth, both without committed partners.
The father of Janis’ child, Arturo (Israel Elejalde), is a forensic anthropologist who has agreed to help Janis examine unmarked graves in his hometown. His great-grandfather had died during the reign of dictator general Francisco Franco.
Building a bond in this room, where Janis is largely trying to allay Ana’s fears, the two agree to stay in touch after leaving the hospital with their daughters. But a shocking discovery from Janis leads the two to be more bonded than originally expected.
Any synopsis of this movie will have to be oversimplified to really make Parallel mothers justice, but Almodóvar is deftly able to navigate this visceral story about motherhood and family, and simultaneously tackle the case of the missing victims of Franco’s time in power.
It is also Cruz’s eighth film with the director and the result of Parallel mothers makes it clear that the two are capable of telling great, emotional stories together, while still managing to juggle that unique balance, even though he’s truly the expert at melodrama.
Visually the film is stunning, even a normally drab hospital has these pops of color that help you immerse yourself in the stories of these two women.
It’s no surprise that Cruz is nominated for an Oscar after receiving Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival and National Society of Film Critics awards for Parallel mothers. She’s almost majestic in this role, you can basically see Janis’ layers coming apart one by one, but with so much care and detail.
There’s certainly some stiff competition in the Best Actress category at the 2022 Oscars, but Cruz’s performance is certainly worth arguing about in this race.
Parallel Mothers is now in theaters in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton and Winnipeg.