Monday, December 21, 2020

Movie with Abe: True Mothers

True Mothers
Directed by Naomi Kawese
Release TBD

The decision to start a family involves many factors and is not a simple one. Having children may be possible both physically and financially for some, and can require immense planning and sacrifice, if it is even feasible. A plan put together at the beginning of a relationship may begin to fall apart when unexpected developments occur, and a new way of thinking may be required to achieve something that looks like an original goal. Getting used to a revised reality can be difficult, but people do often come to accept the cards they’ve been dealt and find ways to appreciate what they have.

Satoko (Hiromi Nagasaku) and Kiyokazu (Arata Iura) marry and set out to build a life together. Their attempts to have a child are unsuccessful, and they realize they have a new option when they find an organization dedicated to helping those who are pregnant and unable to raise a child find a new home for the babies that will be born. They raise a son, Asato (Reio Sato), who fills them with joy. When Satoko receive a call from a woman claiming to be his birth mother, Hikari, she begins to worry that the happiness she has achieved may be undone.

This film tells its story in a compelling manner, presenting events in the present day with flashbacks to two different time periods, profiling Satoko and Hikari in their earlier days as they faced challenges and made crucial decisions about the direction of their lives. Its title is absolutely fitting, since both Satoko and Hikari have distinct and special connections to motherhood that can’t be replicated or even quite understood by anyone else. The exploration of those relationships and dynamics is a core success of this film.

Superb performances from the entire cast, led by Nagasaku, anchor a film that sensitively and poignantly looks at the difficulties of adoption and the associated issues that stick with parents long after a child has officially become part of their family. It also showcases the positive elements, and does so in a way that feels powerful and real. Japan’s official entry for the Oscar for Best International Feature is an involving drama that manages to stay interesting for its entire 140-minute runtime, tackling a sensitive subject with grace and weaving together multiple narratives for a stirring and affecting meditation on the meaning of family.


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