27 June 2004 | DLC95
As complex and unresolved as the underlying issue(s)
The genius of this film is exactly the characteristic that many here have criticized it for: it contradicts itself all over the place and ends abruptly with no resolution. What possible resolution could you expect? Adoption is an inherently troubling phenomenon. It always involves awkward intersections of race and class, opportunity and the lack thereof, sex and sexism, law and morals. I found this film to be deeply troubling in all the ways it should be, due to the topic.
I think Sayles did a brilliant job bringing together a number of very believable characters and just showing them to us for 90-some odd minutes. All have their contradictions, and none clearly speaks some unambiguous authorial opinion. The son of the hotel owner mouths his leftist analysis with his buddies, but is really a drunken loser. Rita Moreno, through her frustration with her husband's politics, voices the frustration of so many women: politics is one thing, but who'll take care of the kids? And of course, the reverse is implied as well: kids are one thing, but who'll take care of the politics? You can go through each of the characters and seem some inherent pull in opposite directions.
I loved that none of the characters is entirely sympathetic, except perhaps the three homeless boys. They are all complicated and corrupted by a complicated and corrupt world that places a premium on babies and motherhood, but only under the "right" circumstances for the right women and the right kids.
I was very grateful that there was no real closure at the end, and that all Sayles had to say was that, despite all, both the least sympathetic and the most sympathetic of the potential moms were about to leave with babies.
Anyone who cares about kids and women should see this movie. And certainly anyone who is considering adoption (domestic or international -- either way, it's all the same issues) should see it. In sum, a very thought-provoking movie.
P.S. -- Did I mention the incredible soundtrack?