Penelope Cruz takes center stage in Ma Ma, a story which focuses on one woman fighting a brave battle with Breast Cancer almost on her own. Ma Ma takes a Cruz and strips her of her voluptuous and stunning image to show a more vulnerable and laid bare yet beautiful woman.

Ma Ma may be written and directed by Julio Medem but with an introduction stating it’s a film by Penelope Cruz and Medem sets in stone Cruz has a vested interest. One in which a very male dominated world revolves around her with hardly another woman in sight to distract from the main purpose of the film. Some would suggest this work a vanity outing for the actress, maybe, it’s just a quest for the actress to show her filmmaking potential instead of just a sexual figure in front of the camera, proving she is more than a piece of eye candy for men to salivate over.

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Magda (Cruz) makes an all important visit to her gynecologist (Asier Etxeandia) after discovering a lump on her breast a few months earlier only to discover she indeed has breast cancer and needs to have a mastectomy. Magda’s husband has left the family home to take up an affair with a student, and with a young son to bring up, Magda battles through the news without telling a single soul.

Whilst watching her son Dani (Teo Planell), a budding young footballer, in a game she meets a Football scout Arturo (Luis Tosar), one who she instantly feels a connection but he soon receives a call that involves a tragic accident which has seen his daughter killed and his wife in a coma. Although dealing with her own traumatic illness, she befriends this man and offers her support in his difficult time. After each of her chemotherapy sessions, she visits Arturo in the hospital every day until his wife passes. The pair build a life together until she finds out the cancer is back and this time terminal but she has one last surprise delivery for Arturo and Dani before she leaves this earth.

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At times, Ma Ma borders on art house values as beams of white light encapsulate most scenes and Magda veers in and out of consciousness and dreams of a Russian girl with no family. It glitters with bombs of quirkiness too as her gynecologist becomes her best friend who seems to have given up singing for a career as a doctor, at her persistence he serenades her love songs to the delight of her new man Arturo. There seems to be nothing but love from every corner for this woman even from her cheating ex-husband in the end.

It has to be said Cruz, gives an extremely stripped back performance and she really shines in scenes of her utter despair at the thought of dying and leaving her son behind. Whilst it doesn’t quite hit tones of realism it’s still a commendable powerful performance from an actress who spends most of her time looking stunning.

Ma Ma is released in cinemas June 24.