×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin Film Review: ‘Just Like Our Parents’

A story of universality and warmth about a woman feeling crushed by the impossible expectations she places on herself as wife, mother, daughter, and breadwinner.

With:
Maria Ribeiro, Clarisse Abujamra, Paulo Vilhena, Felipe Rocha, Jorge Mautner, Herson Capri, Sophia Valverde, Annalara Prates, Cazé Peçanha, Gabrielle Lopez, Antonia Baudouin.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5631456/

That impossible bind in which many career women finds themselves, forced to juggle the roles of wife, mother, and housekeeper together with a vocation, tends to be discussed more in women’s magazines than movies, so it’s refreshing to see Laís Bodanzky tackle the subject in “Just Like Our Parents.” Nicely told, with an eminently likable lead turn from Maria Ribeiro (“Elite Squad”), the film is a sympathetic portrayal of the conflicts between mothers and daughters, wives and husbands, and the eternal desire for a room of one’s own. Bodanzky (“The Best Things in the World”) and her co-scripter husband Luiz Bolognesi occasionally get as bogged down with conflicted loyalties as their protagonist, but the story’s universality and warmth could translate into modest worldwide sales.

Rosa (Ribeiro) wants to be writing plays rather than portfolios for a bathroom ceramics company, but she’s convinced herself her family needs the stability offered by a 9-to-5 office job. Her left-wing, middle class mother Clarice (Clarisse Abujamra) doesn’t see it that way, offering endless compliments to Rosa’s husband Dado (Paulo Vilhena) for his work as an anthropologist and environmental activist while denigrating her daughter’s apparently more prosaic existence. As tension ratchets up around the Sunday lunch table, Clarice cruelly drops a bomb: Rosa’s biological father isn’t Homero (Jorge Mautner), the man who helped raise her, but a casual acquaintance her mother had a fling with at a conference in Havana 38 years earlier.

The revelation undermines Rosa’s precarious stability, already reaching crisis point. Dado’s frequent absences and his overly indulgent behavior with their two daughters chips away at her attempts at discipline, plus she’s convinced he’s having an affair. Since Rosa is having a liaison (possibly chaste) with Pedro (Felipe Rocha), there’s some hypocrisy in her jealousy, though the script doesn’t address it.

Add to that professional dissatisfaction together with financial pressures from parasitic artist-serial philander Homero, and Rosa is reaching meltdown. Clearly she can’t look to her mother for support, but when Clarice is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Rosa listens harder to her mom’s wisdom.

Clarice remains a problematic figure, one the film doesn’t quite know how to handle. Her initial blithe spitefulness exposes monumental egotism as well as a preference for attractive men over sympathy for her own daughter. When the cancer diagnosis comes, she treats it with sanguinity, telling the family she’s had a great life and has no intention of enduring the long-term futility of treatment when it would merely add a few deeply unpleasant months. So the affectionate wisdom she imparts to Rosa at this stage feels as if the viewer is meant to reassess Clarice’s behavior and cast it in a more positive light, when such a spin is neither logical nor valid. We may yearn for solidarity between mother and daughter, but the denouement here feels artificially tacked on and ultimately unsatisfying when Rosa’s grievances over her mistreatment are completely legitimate.

Rosa is not and should not be “just like our parents,” and condemning her to that cycle does the character (and us) an injustice. Apart from this, however, the film adeptly addresses the “superwoman” quandary, which casts mothers in a critical light if they aren’t seen as effortlessly coping with children, a husband, a household, and a career.  While Rosa’s reading matter — “A Doll’s House” and “The Second Sex” — may seem obvious or old-fashioned, the sad truth is these books’ relevance remains undiminished.

Lead actress Ribeiro ensures that Rosa is a figure anyone can identify with, her struggle for self-realization as pertinent today as it was in Clarice’s generation. Versatile cinematographer Pedro J. Márquez makes the visuals clean and bright while ensuring audiences form a close rapport with the protagonist, and editor Rodrigo Menecucci deserves special praise for excellent cutting in a scene when Rosa returns home to find her daughters acting out, her husband egging them on, and a phone call that makes it all feel as if her life is spinning out of control.

Berlin Film Review: 'Just Like Our Parents'

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 13, 2017. Running time: 104 MIN. (Original title: “Como nossos pais”)

Production: (Brazil) An Imovision release of a Gullane, Buriti Filmes, Globo Filmes production. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Producers: Caio Gullane, Debora Ivanov, Fabiano Gullane, Laís Bodanzky, Luiz Bolognesi. Executive producers: Caio Gullane, Rodrigo Castellar. Executive co-producer: Ana Saito.

Crew: Director: Laís Bodanzky. Screenplay: Bodanzky, Luiz Bolognesi. Camera (color): Pedro J. Márquez. Editor: Rodrigo Menecucci.

With: Maria Ribeiro, Clarisse Abujamra, Paulo Vilhena, Felipe Rocha, Jorge Mautner, Herson Capri, Sophia Valverde, Annalara Prates, Cazé Peçanha, Gabrielle Lopez, Antonia Baudouin.

More Film

  • Elton John and Mark Ronson

    Elton John to 'Shallow' Songwriter Mark Ronson: 'You're Going to Win the Oscar'

    Elton John is willing to bet that Mark Ronson will win the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.” The nominations were announced this morning. The legendary performer spoke to Ronson on the latest episode of his radio show “Elton John’s Rocket Hour” on Apple Music’s Beats 1.  More Reviews Concert [...]

  • Olivia Colman Colin Firth Helen Mirren

    Playing a British Monarch Is a Step on the Road to Oscar Glory - Again

    “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” Shakespeare wrote of Britain’s care-burdened monarchs. Try telling that to the Academy. Once again, playing British royalty has proved to be a tried-and-true route to Oscar glory, with Olivia Colman as the latest actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for portraying an occupant of the British [...]

  • Black Panther Movie

    Oscars: 'Black Panther' Leads Best Picture Nominees to Near-Record Box Office Grosses

    This year’s Academy Award nominees proved the Oscars don’t need a popular film category to recognize movies with huge box office grosses. The 2019 crop of best picture hopefuls have generated an impressive $1.26 billion so far in North America alone. That bounty is led by “Black Panther,” which earned a sensational $700 million at [...]

  • oscar nominations 2019 stream online

    How to Watch This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films

    The 2019 Oscar nominations have been announced, and if you want to catch up on the nominees, we’ve rounded up some easy ways to watch or stream the original films, documentaries, and songs competing for an award. Period comedy “The Favourite” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” lead the pack with 10 nominations apiece, while “Green Book” [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Makes History for Poland

    Alfonso Cuaron might’ve tied an Oscar record with four nods to his name for “Roma,” which scored 10 nominations overall. But another black-and-white film in a foreign language, Pawel Pawlikowski’s jazz-infused romantic drama “Cold War,” was honored with three Academy Award nominations Tuesday, the most in history for a primarily Polish-backed production. The film will [...]

  • BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

    U.K. Cinema Attendance in 2018 Was Highest Since 1970

    Cinema attendance in the U.K. topped 177 million in 2018, the highest number since 1970. Box office held firm at £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) through the year as 10 movies crossed the £30 million threshold in the year. That compares with six films in 2017. After a sweltering summer in the U.K. and a strong [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content