Almodóvar has cultivated a particular brand of campness, his familiar subjects of tragedy, family and the labours of love always touched with a synthetic sheen. Underneath that glossy layer, though, is the mark of a political standpoint catalysed by Spain’s dark history and the ongoing devastation of the Civil War. Parallel Mothers acknowledges the literal “layer beneath” in its confrontation of the mass graves that have kept Spain from closing that chapter of its past for so long.
This sincere and afflicting story contrasts with one of pure farce, though still tender and carried through its peaks and valleys expertly by alumna Penélope Cruz. Cruz plays Janis, who while giving birth meets Ana (Milena Smit), leading to an emotional bond between the two single mothers that continues into life postpartum. The women share stories of their growing children, but soon things start to get complicated, and it falls on Janis to figure out why.
Where to watch: In cinemas now