Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) is a city-hopping attorney with plenty of career drive and no attachments — she treats her lovers with black-widow disdain. In another part of Los Angeles, Karen (Annette Bening) cares for the elderly and looks down her nose at everyone she encounters.
Then there’s Lucy (Kerry Washington), who wants to give her husband a child but can’t. The three lives become intertwined, of course.
And though Watts’s Elizabeth brings a sense of darkness and unpredictability to the film, the hyperbolic flourishes (Karen keeps telling people she’s “difficult” on the heels of an ample demonstration) and the melodramatic climax offset the actresses’ best efforts. Director Rodrigo Garcia, who navigated similar terrain with Nine Lives, seems to have cinematic mother issues that require the audience to sign on as therapist.