ma ma

FILM REVIEW: Penelope Cruz stars in “Ma Ma”

The Spanish star plays a woman diagnosed with breast cancer in this soapy but satisfying melodrama

A half hour into “Ma Ma,” I thought to myself, “You know, that Penélope Cruz is underrated as an actress. It’s as if her preternatural beauty has prevented people from appreciating her talents as a thespian. Almost like she’s the distaff Spanish version of Brad Pitt.”

After the film was over, and I had a chance to peruse Cruz’s filmography at leisure, doubts emerged. In recent years, at least, she’s had a nose for picking parts in outright bombs. Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor.” “Zoolander 2.” “Sex and the City 2.” She was even one of the voices in the instantly forgotten CGI guinea pig adventure “G-Force.” In fact, unless you count some mediocre Woody Allen movies (“To Rome with Love,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and some late-period Pedro Almodovar (“Volver,” “Broken Embraces”), she really hasn’t been in very many memorable flicks over the last decade.


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