Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA/Mexico, 2003. IFC Films, Springall Pictures. Screenplay by John Sayles. Cinematography by Mauricio Rubinstein. Produced by Alejandro Springall, Lemore Syvan. Music by Mason Daring. Production Design by Felipe Fernández del Paso. Costume Design by Mayes C. Rubeo. Film Editing by John Sayles. Toronto International Film Festival 2003.
Six women stay at a resort in Mexico, some for months on end, waiting for the paperwork to come through on their adoptions of orphan children, while their hotel manager (Rita Moreno) is desperate to accommodate them without going crazy or killing her political upstart of a son. John Sayles has concocted another loosely plotted, sharply observant character study about a country living in an economic depression and selling its own children as its most successful export. Like Limbo, the film ends abruptly in a way that will infuriate some viewers, but not before giving each of its stars a chance to shine. Marcia Gay Harden is scary as an uptight, pathological liar who seems to need a child to recover her own happiness, Lili Taylor gives her best performance in years as a paranoid New Yorker who’s on to everybody, Daryl Hannah is perfectly exquisite as a health fanatic who is adopting as a way to make up for her own children that she lost, Maggie Gyllenhaal is wonderful as the young rich woman who is trying to patch up her failing marriage with a baby, and Mary Steenburgen is lovely as a ex-alcoholic born-again Christian who doesn’t seem to mind anybody. The show-stealing moments, however, come from two wonderful monologues delivered by the sixth woman waiting for her child, played by Susan Lynch, who delivers her dream of motherhood to a non-Anglophone maid (Vanessa Martinez of Limbo), and then listens to Martinez speak of her child in Spanish. Although these two don’t understand each other’s languages, their feeling for motherhood is a universal concept, and this is put across beautifully without mawkish sentiment.