Spanish star Penelope Cruz lights up the screen once more in a role she really makes her own in Julio Medem's deeply moving new movie Ma Ma (released 24 June 2016 nationwide).
The place is Madrid, the year 2012. Unemployed schoolteacher Magda is diagnosed with breast cancer by her doctor Julian. That evening, while watching her son Dan playing football, Magda meets Real Madrid scout, Arturo. While they are talking, he receives the devastating news that his wife and daughter have been killed in a car crash.
Magda and Arturo form an intimate relationship after Magda's husband, Raul, leaves her for one of his students.
Things seem to be looking up for Magda and her cancer goes into remission. But this brief period of happiness is short lived as her illness returns and this time proves terminal, leaving Magda with only four months to live.
Medem does not spare us the sad and painful cancer treatment that our protagonist undergoes – removal of one breast, loss of hair, endless scans, but his film is not afraid to tackle a difficult uncommercial subject in a realistic manner, skilfully eschewing sentimentality.
It is Penelope Cruz's heartfelt performance, though as the strong-willed Magda, determined to fight this terrible disease and makes the most of her remaining days on earth that has us reaching for our hankies.
In short then a sad, memorable, little movie that does manage to introduce a note of optimism at the end.
Realeased in cinemas nationwide from 24 June 2016Last modified: June 27, 2016