TIFF #8: Adopted Lives and Au Revoir

If Friday’s theme was “girls behaving badly,” Saturday’s was most certainly “adoption.”

I began with Mother and Child (7/8), the latest from writer-director Rodrigo García (Nine Lives, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her) and easily his most accomplished film to date. García always crafts multiple-character stories involving women, and this time around he explores the nature of motherhood through the eyes of three troubled characters: Karen (Annette Bening), a physical therapist struggling with a lifetime of regret over having given her baby girl up for adoption 37 years ago; Lucy (Kerry Washington), a young wife desperate to adopt a baby, who’s growing frustrated by jumping through the hoops of the process; and Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), a career-driven attorney whose professional success masks a personal life that’s kind of in a shambles. Peppering his stellar leading ladies with a strong supporting cast that includes Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson and David Morse, García delicately interweaves the lives of these women and creates a rich tapestry of love, loss, sadness and joy.

Those same themes ran through my final TIFF 2009 film, The Waiting City (7/8), an introspective and somewhat quiet meditation on love and relationships under pressure. The story follows a young Australian couple (Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton) in Kolkata, India, where they hope to bring home the young girl they’ve adopted. But red tape and delays arise, forcing the culture-shocked pair to settle into their hotel and adjust to life in a foreign city amid increasing tension and doubts about their lives together. Both Mitchell (who’s always great) and Edgerton turn in some wonderfully nuanced performances that anchor the film, and their work is supported nicely by Samrat Chakrabarti as Krishna, a hotel staffer who becomes their de-facto guide through this new world.

And that, folks, is that as far as TIFF 2009 goes. Overall, I would say my decision to cut down my film-going made for a much less manic nine days… and, though I’m still tired at fest’s end, I’m far less bitter and exhausted than I have been in years previous.

If you’re curious about which films won which awards, click here.

Otherwise, that’s a wrap until 2010.

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