Mother and Child
Starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington,
Samuel L. Jackson and Jimmy Smits

Released by Sony Pictures Classics, 2010

Reviewed by Barbara Free, M.A.

     This movie, featuring several well-known actors, was released last year, but was in theaters only a short time. It is now available on DVD, and will be available through the O.I. lending library. There are three story lines, seeming separate at first but all intertwined by the end. The first concerns a woman who relinquished a child at the age of 14 and has never really moved beyond that trauma. She has never married nor had other children. Her mother lives with her and is dying. The second story line concerns her relinquished daughter, a tough-as-nails young woman, a very successful daughter who is very wary of relationships but doesn’t mind using sex to get ahead. The third story line concerns a young woman unable to conceive a child, which is more important to her than her marriage.
     This film does contain a fair amount of sexual activity and a fair amount of swearing, so parents will not want their young children watching it, but for anyone in the adoption triad who is an adult, this is a film they should see, probably more than once. It handles the losses of relinquishment, adoption in closed adoption, and even in open or semi-closed adoptions, and the continuing effects of those losses, in authentic ways. The writer/director, Rodrigo Garcia, says he had to “unglamorize” Jimmy Smits to make him older, heavier, and less handsome for his character. He also says that all of the actors were eager to be in this film because of the compelling story. For birth parents and adult adoptees, it will be a haunting story and may bring up their own issues, and it may bring up different, but just as deep, issues for adoptive parents or those considering adoption.
     We purchased this film very inexpensively at Hastings, and it is also available through Netflix. Some viewers may want their own copy so they can watch it from time to time, and therapists may want to have it available for clients with adoption connections. If you watch it right before bed, you will dream about it.

Published in the October 2011 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2011 Operation Identity