Mother and Child
Nature and Nurture
In Mother and
Child, parenthood is explored through such a crisscross of people who might
never meet. The rather off-putting, prickly physical therapist Karen (Annette
Benning) was 14 when she became pregnant; she gave her child up at birth. That
baby grew into Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), a coldly ambitious attorney with no
knowledge of her biological mother. The affluent African-American couple, Lucy
(Kerry Washington) and Joseph (David Ramsey), can’t have children and
desperately seek to adopt a baby. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has simultaneous affairs with two
men, her married neighbor and a partner at her law firm (Samuel L. Jackson),
while Karen gradually opens the rusty lock of her heart to a new coworker.
Over the slow moving course of Mother and Child, the lifelines of these people move gradually toward their inevitable intersection. There are some psychologically and socially astute moments, especially between Elizabeth and her aged, ailing mother, whose caring relationship is replete with the silence of so many years and so many regrets. The terrible sound of a thud in the night will be familiar to anyone who has cared for elderly parents. Too much of Mother and Child, however, has the slack pace, improbable developments and soft focus of a made-for-TV movie—albeit one with a couple of explicit sexual encounters. The cast performs ably in a story that veers unnecessarily toward soap opera.