×
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

  • Hugh Jackman Sings Happy Birthday to

    Hugh Jackman Leads Massive One-Man Show Crowd in 'Happy Birthday' for Ian McKellen

    Hugh Jackman may have had to skip Ian McKellen’s birthday party to perform his one-man show, “The Man, The Music, The Show,” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t celebrate his “X-Men” co-star’s 80th. Jackman took a moment at the Manchester Arena Saturday to lead the sold-out audience — some 50,000 strong — in a rendition [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Dominates International Box Office With $121 Million

    Disney’s “Aladdin” is showing plenty of worldwide drawing power with $121 million overseas for the weekend, opening in first place in nearly all international markets. The reboot of the 1992 animated classic has received strong family attendance with a significant gain on Saturday and Sunday. China leads the way with an estimated $18.7 million for [...]

  • Aladdin

    Box Office: 'Aladdin' Taking Flight With $105 Million in North America

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” is flying high with an estimated $105 million in North America during the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. It’s the sixth-highest Memorial Day weekend total ever, topping the 2011 mark of $103.4 million for “The Hangover Part II.” The top total came in 2007, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” [...]

  • Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special

    Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special Mention Winner ‘Monster God’

    CANNES – An exploration of the ramifications of God, “Monster God,” from Argentina’s Agustina San Martín, took a Special Mention – an effective runner’s up prize – on Saturday night at this year’s Cannes Film Festival short film competition. It’s not difficult to see why, especially when jury president Claire Denis own films’ power resists [...]

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content