‘True Mothers’ Review: Naomi Kawase’s Heartbreaking Parenting Saga Goes on Way Too Long

‘True Mothers’ Review: Naomi Kawase’s Heartbreaking Parenting Saga Goes on Way Too Long
There’s a happy ending by the time “True Mothers,” Naomi Kawase’s saga of an adoptive family brought to a crossroads by the unexpected drop-in of their child’s birth mother, cuts to black, but there are plenty of moments of melancholy along the way. And oh, what a time it is, as “True Mothers” clocks in at just under two and a half hours, threatening to kill the emotional impact of this epically scaled, time-spanning, yet specifically intimate drama. Nevertheless,, and the Japanese director’s background as both a photographer and a documentary filmmaker brings a gossamer naturalism to this realistic tale about a young woman’s regrets over abandoning her child years after the fact.

Satoko (Hiromi Nagasaku) and Kiyokazu (Arata Iura) are a middle-class couple grappling with infertility in contemporary Tokyo. While Satoko desperately wants a child, Kiyokazu’s sperm (along with any sort of fathering streak) is blocked,
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