Mother and Child

Rated 4.0

In this drama about lives enlaced and unlaced by the process of adoption, writer-director Rodrigo García (Nine Lives), not incidentally the son of novelist Gabriel García Márquez, avoids the trite shorthand displays of connectedness favored by producer Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) in favor of a more novelistic, deeply felt approach. With superb, forcefully precise performances by Annette Bening, Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts, García assembles an austere triptych on the brittleness and resilience that results from fractured family bonds. Some paths cross, some just miss each other; what matters is that we want to follow them all. The sanctity teeters occasionally into sanctimony, and the tough love might seem occasionally too pitiless, but the movie has vigor to spare and easily transcends its self-imposed limitations. The leads have excellent support from Jimmy Smits, Cherry Jones, Shareeka Epps and S. Epatha Merkerson—plus, that most welcome rarity, a subtle turn from Samuel L. Jackson.