What is motherhood? Maura Delpero's ‘Maternal’ shows us a world in which two forms of motherhood—the single mother and the holy mother—collide. Set within the walls of a ‘hogar’, an Italian religious shelter for young single mothers in Buenos Aires, the film follows three women: Sister Paola, an Italian nun about to take her religious vows, Luciana, a teenage mother struggling to care for her daughter, and Fatima, another teenage mother with a young son, who is pregnant with her second child. All three struggle with the implications of motherhood in their own way… ‘Maternal’ works on multiple levels by showing the complexity of love and care. The film plays with religious symbolism and with themes such as temptation and freedom without passing harsh judgements. It's a nuanced portrayal of motherhood that's disarming, moving, and charmingly funny.
‘In an environment where the Virgin Mary is held up as the exemplar of motherhood, how does that ideal square with the noisier, messier, considerably less virginal reality of maternal life? That question lies at the heart of “Maternal,” a moving, lively study of conflicting duties and desires… Mixing starkly composed formalism with more organic, observational material of a piece with her non-fiction background, Delpero’s film… can be considered an auspicious international arrival.’—Guy Lodge, Variety