Ma ma is set in Madrid, Spain, and stars Academy Award®-winning actress Penelope Cruz as Magda, a woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer who’s also going through a separation from her self-centered husband Raul (Alex Brendemuhl), who left her for one of his students.
It’s a few of several devastating hardships Magda endures in Spanish director Julio Medem’s film, written and produced by himself, Cruz and Alvaro Longoria.
After a few months of ignoring a lump on her right breast, Magda decides to get it checked out. Her doctor, Julian (Asier Etxeandia), biopsies the lump for cancer.
Shortly afterwards, much to her dismay, he delivers the terrible news that she indeed has cancer, and will require grueling chemotherapy sessions to shrink the nodules before having a mastectomy.
Each chemo session is accompanied by a glaring white background that distracts the viewer more than adding anything to the scenes. But the wonderful cinematography and camera work pull you back in.
Looking to for a bit of escapism, Magda attends her son Dani’s (Teo Planell) football game, where she meets a man, Arturo (Luis Tosar), a talent scout for the famed football (soccer) team, Real Madrid.
Arturo is interested in recruiting her son, a standout player on his youth squad, in Real Madrid’s junior program, which helps develop young talent into future professionals.
While there, Arturo receives unimaginable news of his own, that there has been a car accident, which has claimed the life of his daughter, and left his wife in a comma.
Magda accompanies Arturo to the hospital, subsequently visiting him while undergoing her own chemo treatments, which she hasn’t divulge to anyone at the time.
However, she eventually tells Arturo, who winds up losing his wife, and the two become each other’s support system. As she recovers from her operation, and is in the clear for the time being, they predictably fall in love, and form the perfect family unit.
But cruel misfortune steps in again on the hard-luck Magda, as Dr. Julian, who belts out beautiful, romantic songs in a bedside attempt to soothed her, informs his patient that the cancer has spread to her other breast, and metastasized to wall of her lungs. Subsequently, the doctor delivers a gut-wrenching prognosis of only six months to live.
What follows is an over-the-top attempt of series of events intent on extracting more tears from movie-goers, with the final scene cumulating in another foreseeable outcome.
Overall, though, ‘Ma ma’ is worth seeing despite its campy, overdramatic feel—which is only exaggerated by a few scenes in which beating hearts are splashed across the screen for shameless, emotional effects—because of its positive message of strength, courage, and hope amidst tragedy.
‘Ma ma’ opens in New York City on May 20th, and in Los Angeles and Miami on May 27th, with national expansion to follow.