Mother and Child
Australian theatrical poster
Directed byRodrigo García
Written byRodrigo García
Produced byLisa Maria Falcone
Julie Lynn
StarringNaomi Watts
Annette Bening
Kerry Washington
Jimmy Smits
Samuel L. Jackson
David Morse
David Ramsey
CinematographyXavier Pérez Grobet
Edited bySteven Weisberg
Music byEd Shearmur
Cha Cha Cha Films
Everest Entertainment
Mockingbird Pictures
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • September 14, 2009 (2009-09-14) (TIFF)
  • May 7, 2010 (2010-05-07)
Running time
125 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Budget$7 million[1]
Box office$5.6 million[1]

Mother and Child is a 2009 drama film directed and written by Rodrigo García. It premiered on September 14, 2009, at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival[2] and at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2010,[3] and was the closing night selection in the 2010 Maryland Film Festival. It had a limited release in the United States beginning May 7, 2010.[4]


When she was 14, Karen became pregnant and her mother decided for her to give her daughter up for adoption. The decision to give up her child has always haunted her. Ever since, Karen has had difficulty forming connections with people.

Upon meeting laid-back Paco at work, Karen allows her anxiety and mistrust to get the best of her. She is initially hostile and suspicious of his friendliness and interest. Karen gradually calms her anxiety through her growing relationship with Paco, and eventually they get married.

Paco persuades Karen to write a letter to her unknown, adult daughter, and she leaves the letter with the Catholic agency that had arranged the adoption. The letter isn't addressed to any name, as she's not given one, and the person who's meant to file it gets distracted.

Karen's daughter, Elizabeth, grows up to be solitary, willful, and hardhearted. She is hired as an attorney at a prestigious law firm headed by Paul. They have an affair and, although Elizabeth had her tubes tied at 17, she becomes pregnant. She quits without informing Paul of her condition and moves to a new apartment and a new job.

Some months pass, and Elizabeth is seen by one of Paul's daughters but denies the baby is his. Paul stops by, offering to drop a new relationship he's in to become a proper couple, which she declines. However, he does convince her to leave a letter for her biological mother with the adoption agency.

Lucy is a baker who longs to be a mother, but she cannot have children of her own. She and her husband, Joseph, contact the same adoption agency and they meet with a young pregnant, prospective mother. After a protracted interview period, the mother agrees to give the couple her baby.

Shortly before she gives birth, Joseph reveals that he really wants to have his own biological child and he and Lucy separate, but Lucy plans to go ahead with the adoption alone. However, the birth mother changes her mind shortly after giving birth, and Lucy is devastated by the news.

Elizabeth dies while giving birth to her child. Since no one steps forward to claim the baby, the agency offers the baby to Lucy, who adopts her. At first, Lucy is overwhelmed by the demands of being a new mother and complains about it bitterly to her mother, who sets her straight.

One year later, Karen finds out about Elizabeth's death and her letter, which had been misplaced, informing her that she has a granddaughter named Ella. The agency arranges a meeting and Karen meets the little girl and Lucy, who live a short distance away in her own neighborhood.



The film was originally going to be produced by Cha Cha Cha Films, Focus Films and Universal Studios; Julie Lynn through Mockingbird Films took over in late 2008 with a production budget of $7 million.[5] Principal photography began in January, 2009.[6]


The film was met with generally positive reviews, with critics praising the standout performance of Annette Bening. It has a 78% approval rating based on 130 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.[7] The site's critics consensus reads, "Though it occasionally veers into unnecessary melodrama, Mother and Child benefits from a stellar cast and writer-director Rodrigo Garcia's finely detailed, bravely unsentimental script."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 64, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8]

The film was awarded the Grand Prix du Jury at the 2010 Deauville American Film Festival.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Mother and Child". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 10, 2022.
  2. ^ McCarthy, Todd (September 16, 2009). "Mother and Child: TIFF Review". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on September 23, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  3. ^ Rich, Katey (January 28, 2010). "Sundance Review: Mother And Child". Cinema Blend LLC. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  4. ^ "Mother and Child Release". CraveOnline. Archived from the original on July 31, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  5. ^ Frater, Patrick (November 5, 2008). "Bening, Watts star in 'Mother'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on November 12, 2008. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  6. ^ "Samuel L. Jackson Joins Mother and Child". CraveOnline. January 30, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Mother and Child Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Mother and Child Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  9. ^ "2010 | 36th edition". Festival du Cinéma Américain de Deauville. Retrieved October 10, 2022.