True Mothers, the review: mother, where are you?

The review of True Mothers, a new film by Naomi Kawase that explores the theme of adoption and biological parents.

[display-posts orderby="comment_count"]
True Mothers: Hiromi Nagasaku e Arata Iura in una scena del film

Write the True Mothers review, the new feature film by Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase, carries some memories of the bizarre film and festival panorama of the year 2020: the film was in fact one of the features announced as part of the Official Selection of Cannes, which had canceled its 71st edition but still branded about sixty titles, complete with a logo that accompanied them even if they made their debut in other contexts. This was the case of Kawase’s most recent effort, which then debuted in the fall at the Toronto International Film Festival, inaugurating a cinephile path during which he was also chosen to represent Japan in the race for the Oscars for the statuette of the best international film, the first time for the director (but without obtaining the nomination).

Beware of the mother

True Mothers 7

True Mothers: Hiromi Nagasaku and Arata Iura in a picture

True Mothers is based on a novel by Mizuki Tsujimura and tells the story of Satoko (Hiromi Nagasaku) and Kiyokazu (Arata Iura), who receive troubling information about their son Asato (Reo Sato), accused of violent behavior in kindergarten. The two suspect that it may be a genetic issue, and flashbacks deepen their personal history: suffering from fertility problems, after various attempts at treatment that went wrong they turned to Baby Baton, a non-profit organization that specializes in entrusting to sterile couples the children of women who cannot or do not want to take care of them. Such was the case of Asato, abandoned by his biological mother Hikari (Aju Makita) due to force majeure (she leaves him a letter apologizing). The past is intertwined with the present when Hikari jumps out near the school and begins to ask to see his son, undermining the family balance that Satoko and Kiyokazu have built up over the years.

Personal dramas

True Mothers 1

True Mothers: Aju Makita in an image

Human relationships have always been at the center of Naomi Kawase’s work, interested in the boundary between real and fictional (on a thematic and visual level) and often driven by autobiographical instincts (abandoned at an early age by her parents, she was raised by a great-aunt to to which he dedicated one of his documentary projects). His emotional participation, imbued with empathy, is perceptible throughout the duration of the film, which alternates two temporal blocks to undermine the expectations of the audience and the characters, perhaps with a somewhat academic approach – at a certain point the attempt to shuffling the cards with a kind of twist – but always effective, guided by a human and warm gaze, fond of what is happening on the screen.

Radiance and the delicacy of Naomi Kawase

True Mothers 6

True Mothers: a sequence from the film

It is a work that questions the notion of motherhood, contradicting those who wanted to try to demonize or belittle adoption already in the title, strictly in the plural: both Hikari and Satoko are the real mothers of little Asato, and the film underlines this by giving a both the same space in the various time segments, uniting their sufferings with great tenderness to create an act of cinematic love for the family, in all its meanings. That sincerity, conveyed through a gaze that points to reality with almost documentary precision, makes the film, with all its imperfections, a warm welcoming womb where emotions can grow during the viewing, with the darkness of the cinema increasing strength. of an intimate and direct drama, without too many frills.


We close the review of True Mothers, underlining how in her new intimate drama Naomi Kawase explores the theme of adoption with great delicacy and how this affects the concept of motherhood.

[display-posts orderby="rand"]

Because we like it

  • The cast is perfectly in tune with the sincerity of the directorial approach.
  • The basic idea is very strong.
  • The emotional component is of great impact.

What’s wrong

  • Some steps are a little too contrived.

Leave a Comment