Saturday, February 20, 2021

True Mothers / 朝が来る - Reel Love Film Fest Movie Review

The Movie: True Mothers / 朝が来る

The Director: Naomi Kawase

The Cast: Hiromi Nagasaku, Arata Iura, Aju Makita, Miyoko Asada

The Story: A woman with an adopted child is contacted unexpectedly by the child's birth mother.

The Review:
Every once in a while a movie comes along and just hits you with all the emotions. When I find these movies, I try to sit in that moment for as long as possible just to soak it all enjoy and to make sure I have enjoyed it properly. Director Naomi Kawase's latest feature is one I have been wanting to see for some time because I had heard great things and I was trying to not have too high of an expectation. After watching the movie, I am not sure if there is an expectation that can be too high as for me it ended up being everything and exactly what I was hoping for.

True Mothers is a very honest and thought provoking look at what it means to be a mother, what it means to be a family, and what it means to be a human being. There has been a string of movies recently that redefine these concepts and show them in a more modern and authentic context than what we usually think of or see with the best examples being Shoplifters and Parasite. Those two movies are filled with drama and emotion and powerful performances and this film fits nicely right alongside them just with its own unique ideas. The story is based on a 2015 novel by Mizuki Tsujimura and Kawase has translated it to the screen in such a beautiful way.

What's most impressive to me about this story is all the different ways that motherhood is explored and each character, no matter how different their experience, is intertwined with the others in some way. The concept of adoption is also looked at from different perspectives and the story really digs into the concepts of what it means to make the decision to adopt or to give up your child for adoption as well as how those decisions affect and are affected by family and society. There are stigmas and biases surrounding all of these ideas and Kawase respectfully examines every angle that you might think of and it's all done in such a beautiful and respectful way.

As I talk about all of this, I want you to understand that this movie is not preachy or heavy handed in any way. It is a very loving and carefully crafted drama which is highlighted by the two main characters and the actors who brilliantly portray them. Aju Makita plays a 14 year old student who gives up her baby for adoption and Hiromi Nagasaku plays Satoko, the woman who, along with her husband, choose to adopt the baby. The parallels and differences between these two characters are equally matched by the stunning performances from each actor. Makita, who was also in the aforementioned Shoplifters, at 18 years old has already put together an impressive resume and this performance really should propel her to great things in the future.

When 2021 is over, Makita's performance might just stand as one of the best I have seen this year and it's certainly one I won't soon forget. With everything her character goes through, this had to be a very challenging role and she handled all of it beautifully with lots of emotional impact and in a way that allows the viewer to really get to know who she is and why she makes certain decisions. You also see the growth of the character that takes place over several years and why she interacts the way she does with Satoko. The entire cast is really pretty great and the quality of the ensemble goes a long way to making this such an enjoyable movie.

The Verdict:
True Mothers is a deeply emotional exploration of motherhood and what that means in today's world. Naomi Kawase achieves greatness with a story that is clearly close to her heart and mind. If you have not seen this movie yet, get it on your must watch lists right now.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Reel Love 2021.

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