Opening 30 Jun 2016
Writing credits: Julio Medem
Principal actors: Penélope Cruz, Luis Tosar, Asier Etxeandia, Teo Planell, Anna Jiménez
Magda has a small son, Dani, who is a talented soccer player. Husband Raul is clearly absent and no help when she is diagnosed with breast cancer and faces a mastectomy. (He actually soon disappears after ending the marriage via SMS.) Magda, though, is full of hope and, determined to enjoy life to the upmost, she falls in love again, which isn’t difficult. There is her gynecologist Julian and also Arturo, a soccer talent scout, who recognizes Dani’s potential in the game. Both men also have their sad stories of loss to share. Her optimistic lifestyle gives her strength in hard times; it has also got her pregnant – an unborn daughter, whom she names Natasha. Half way into the 111-minute film (which seems longer due to the slow plunk-plunk background music), the story takes another pessimistic turn and Magda once again receives a cancer diagnosis, this time terminal. Now her goal is to survive until Natasha’s birth.
That is the story, straightforward and unemotional, over 15 months, including two summers from 2012-2013. Naturally, emotions are high; symbolic and philosophical references to life itself are not spared. The title Ma Ma is, of course, “mother” and we see much about the love between mother and child. “Ma” also means “breast” in Spanish. And of course, in German breast cancer is Mammakarzinom.
Penelope Cruz as Magda looks terrific in spite of her 42 years, two children of her own and more than 60 films since 1992. She won the Spanish version of the Oscars (called Goya) for best actress. (Becky Tan)