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Film / Mother and Child

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Mother and Child is a 2009 hyperlink drama written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Jimmy Smits, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Karen is a caregiver at a hospital, who also takes care of her mother. Elizabeth is a hard-nosed lawyer. Lucy runs a bakery along with her mother. All three of them are connected by adoption - Karen had a baby when she was 14 and gave it up for adoption, Elizabeth, as it turns out, is that baby, and Lucy wants to adopt a child with her husband Joseph.

This film contains examples of:

  • Chekhov's Gun: Karen's mother gave Cristi, Sofia's young daughter, a necklace that her own mother had given her - Karen is angry because the necklace had been promised to her. When Sofia moves, Cristi (whom Karen has reconciled with) gives Karen back the necklace.
  • Country Matters: Elizabeth does not take getting pregnant well (see Law of Inverse Fertility below), sweeping things off the hospital desk, and calling her first gynecologist, Dr. Stone, a cunt.
  • Death by Childbirth: Elizabeth.
  • Dramatic Irony: While it's pretty clear early on Elizabeth is Karen's biological daughter, the two of them never meet, and Karen only finds out who Elizabeth really is long after Elizabeth died giving birth.
  • Happily Married: Though Karen and Paco start off on the wrong foot at first, they do end up in a relationship, and once in that relationship, they become a happy couple. Paco even encourages Karen when she decides to try and find her adoptive daughter. Subverted with Lucy and Joseph, who split when it becomes clear Joseph doesn't want to adopt as much as Lucy does.
  • Heroic BSoD: Lucy has one when she finds out Ray wants to keep her baby after all.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Lucy and Joseph are having sex when Lucy's mother calls, and even though the answering machine picks up, she keeps asking if Lucy is there, which ruins the sex for them.
  • Irony: Elizabeth's baby ends up being an orphan just like she was, although for different reasons.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Played straight with both Elizabeth and Lucy. Elizabeth doesn't want children, to the point she got her tubes tied, but ends up getting pregnant anyway. Lucy, on the other hand, has been trying to have children but can't, and while she's set up an agreement to adopt Ray's baby, Ray changes her mind after given birth. Subverted, however, when she's able to adopt Elizabeth's baby after Elizabeth dies giving birth to her.
  • May–December Romance: Elizabeth ends up having an affair with Paul, who's older than her - she even introduces Paul to her neighbors as being her "father", though that's less about his age and more tweaking them about the fact he's African-American.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The movie opens with Karen at 14, having sex with Tom, and then becoming pregnant, having the baby, and having to give up the baby.
  • Mirror Character: Both Elizabeth and Karen start out in Jerkass territory, though they have their excuses - Elizabeth is still bitter about being given up for adoption, while Karen still hasn't gotten over having to give up her child. As the movie goes on, both of them Took a Level in Kindness and end up becoming nicer people to everyone.
  • Motor Mouth: Lucy tends to be like this when she's nervous (which, in this movie, happens quite often), and she berates herself for it.
  • Nice Guy: Paco and Paul are both decent people, both willing to deal with whatever problems they have with Karen and Elizabeth, respectively (Paul is even willing to give up his new relationship if Elizabeth tells him the baby she's having is his).
  • No Antagonist: There's no villain character here - everybody is just struggling with their own lives.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Leticia, Ray's mother, only appears in one scene, but in that scene, she admits to Ray while she didn't want her in the first place, Ray has become her entire life. This is Foreshadowing for Ray's decision to keep her own baby, which breaks Lucy's heart, but leads her to adopt Elizabeth's orphaned baby.
  • Time Skip: Done twice. The first time, after we see Karen as a teen (see A Minor Kidroduction above), the movie skips ahead 37 years, when Karen is now a middle-aged woman. The second time, near the end, the film skips ahead a year, after Elizabeth has died, and an adoption agency worker discovers the connection between her and Karen.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: A Gender Flipped version; when Sofia tells Karen that Karen's mother (whom Sofia took care of when Karen was at work) blamed herself for ruining Karen's life (for forcing Karen to give up the baby), Karen cries and wonders why her mother never told her that when she was alive.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Lucy has trouble with Elizabeth's baby girl, whom she adopted, and complains to her mother about how she has no life anymore, her mother yells at her by saying, "You think you're the first person to be a mother?"