While Almodóvar’s latest feature Julieta has been basking in the light of critical praise (in spite of the director’s Panama Papers woes), fans of the aging auteur may still feel like something is missing. Namely, Penélope Cruz. That’s not to say that newly christened “chica Almodóvar” Adriana Ugarte isn’t an equally brilliant actress, but any global cinenerd needs at least a yearly dose of the enchanting Madrileña to keep the blood pressure down. Of course, this year you could catch her at the multiplex in goofy comedies like Zoolander No. 2 or The Brothers Grimsby, but you might not want to do that.
Thankfully, Spanish director Julio Medem (the one from Sexo y Lucía) will be gracing us with a full on cinematic barrage of Penélope Cruz laced with all the layers of saccharine melodrama we would expect from Spanish cinema. The film, titled Ma Ma, premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival and was picked up by the nice folks at Oscilloscope Laboratories for U.S. distribution. Billed as “A film by Penélope Cruz and Julio Medem,” Ma Ma tells the story of a wife and mother diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer.
As our heroine is taking in the bad news at her son’s soccer match later that day, she meets a handsome galán who promptly receives news that his own wife and daughter were involved in a fatal car accident. If that already seems like a lot, Medem and Cruz are just getting started. The trailer suggests there’s still plenty more to get teared up about, while Penélope Cruz acts out the living embodiment of maternal strength and abnegation. To boot, it appears from the trailer that Medem has made a visual motif out of ethereal light, giving all sorts of spiritual-religious dimensions to a film about the mysticism of motherhood and how “the soul never dies.” We’re already hoping for a happy ending from this one, but that might just be a little too easy for the director-actress duo.
Find out for yourself when Ma Ma plays at select theaters, starting with a screening at New York City’s Landmark Sunshine on May 20, then moving to theaters across Florida and California on May 27.