Ma Ma, film review: ‘Cancer movie starring Penelope Cruz makes you scoff and sniffle’

Penelope Cruz as Magda in Ma Ma

Penelope Cruz as Magda in Ma Ma - Credit: Archant

The cancer film is a film that I can’t see a need for.

There’s a fairly strong chance you’re going to experience it for real – why would you need to go through a vicarious rehearsal?

So when Ma Ma started with a doctor (Etxeandia) prodding anxiously around Penelope Cruz’s right breast, I winced greatly (I have never really got over Miss Ellie’s mastectomy on Dallas).

Ma Ma though is a cancer film with ambitions; it’s reshaping the boundaries of the cancer film.

As such, it’s a movie that will provoke scoffs and sniffles in equal measure.


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Medem and Cruz’s aim is to make a film about life, to be upbeat without being sentimental.

Everything looks bright, white and clean. Cruz’s prognosis is bleak but the events around her play out like a fantasy.

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On the day of the diagnosis she is linked by tragedy to the man who will be the love of her remaining life, Arturo (Tosar) .

He is a scout for Real Madrid, and spots her son (Planell) as a potential footballer – only to then get a call from the hospital who tell him that his wife and child have been involved in a serious car accident.

From there the story plays out almost as wish fulfillment fantasy.

Everything is clean and white, everybody is good and helpful and thoughtful, and her medical care is exceptional – her doctor is infinitely concerned, sings to her, and turns up on a holiday beach to examine her and then sing to her, again, a little ditty about how brilliant she is.

And she didn’t even go private.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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