Mother and Child (2009) is a drama that examines adoption from several angles. The story involves three different adoptions that are problematic and end up being related to each other. Although the film’s treatment of adoption is illuminating, what make the movie so special are the many interesting characters and the fine cast of noteworthy actors.
The star of the movie is Annette Benning, who was 14-years old when she gave up her daughter for adoption. During the remainder of the movie, Benning is 51-years old (her true age) and mostly emotionally unavailable while she is being courted by Jimmy Smits, whom she describes as chunky (and he is). Naomi Watts plays Benning’s 37-year-old daughter, and she is amazingly attractive. Kerry Washington plays a woman who is unable to have kids and is trying to adopt. The roles of Watts and Washington are almost as big as Benning’s.
Among the other “who’s who” in the cast are the following:
- Samuel Jackson as Watt’s boyfriend/boss
- David Mores (St. Elsewhere) as the boy-father of Benning’s kid
- Amy Brenneman (NYPD Blue) as Watt’s ob-gyn.
- Tatyana Ali (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
- Cherry Jones (24) as an adoption nun
- S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) as Washington’s mom
- Elizabeth Pena (Lone Star) as Benning’s housekeeper
The only false note in the movie is Watts’s quick transition from being a cold-blooded litigator to a sensitive, care woman. But, of course, that is what makes the denouement so heart-rending.
The Rotten Tomato critics score the movie at 79% and the audience at 76%. I think they are short-changing the movie because I give it three and a half stars out of four.