One of the things I adore about this Sony Pictures Classics release (12.24.21) is that it respects a basic biological fact, a fact that Hollywood has only occasionally acknowledged — the bedrock genetic reality of family resemblance.
By the same token George Clooney ‘s The Tender Bar (Amazon, 12.17) has a problem with this, at least as far as the casting of young Daniel Ranieri is concerned. Clooney would have us believe that Ranieri, who seems to be descended from a (take your best guess) Sicilian or Lebanese or Egyptian heritage, is going to grow up to be Tye Sheridan — obviously a non-starter.
Clooney could be saying to his audience, “I know the kid doesn’t look like Lily Rabe or Max Martini but there’s this whole woke and diversity thing going on now, and we have to play ball with that.”
Pedro’s film sits on the opposite side of the canyon — it not only respects family resemblance, but uses it as a plot point.
Without giving away too much of the story, Penélope Cruz is Janis, a Madrid-residing photographer who becomes pregnant by Arturo (Israel Elejalde), a kind of biologist-anthropologist who’s doing forensic studies of the skeletons of victims who were disappeared by the Franco regime.
Their affair has been on the sly as Arturo is married to a woman who’s struggling with cancer. Anyway, the baby (a daughter) arrives and one day Arturo drops by. The instant he lays eyes on her you can tell he’s a bit taken aback. Arturo senses that something might be wrong as he sees nothing of himself in the child’s features.
We can see this also — it’s obvious.
This struck me as a revelation. Parallel Mothers is a movie that actually acknowledges that kids look like their parents (or occasionally like their grandparents)…imagine! Only rarely will U.S.-made films allow for this, and certainly not in present-tense Clooneyville.