There are a few universal truths that we surrender to, one of the most important is that we all are showered with a mother’s love. As we are approaching Mother’s Day, it’s appropriate to honor the relationships we have with our own mothers, no matter what circumstance it may be in. Paul Duddridge’s new film, Mothers and Daughters, takes a glimpse at what it means to be a mother or a daughter.
Films like these allow the audience to examine the relationship status in our own lives, aligning ourselves with one of the situations on screen. I am lucky enough to have an extremely close relationship with my mother, and was interested to see the variety of family connection expressed throughout. The strong emotionally captivating opening of the film and the introduction to the various characters arose high hopes for this film. This film was shaping up to be a unique look at something that has been explored many times before, but that enthusiasm did not last. There are plenty of wonderful things within this movie that holds it up in approval, but at times those can be overshadowed by the faults.
The aspect of these characters that I immediately was attracted to is the fact that these ‘daughters’ are in their 30s, and they don’t have that stereotypical 50s standard for women in our culture. They were artists, for the most part, and saw a variety of the realms presented in our world. It’s not often that you see independent strong women in the center of a family expose, and this was refreshing. It was an opportunity for the single women of the audience to finally find their representation on screen. Even the men, or lack there of, was not an issue. There was no pining away for a coupling. It was a bright example of how wonderful women can be by being themselves.
The length of this triumph lasted about halfway through the movie. It was at this juncture that the world on screen began to shift to incorporate a second generation of mothers. It would be something if it was a piece of the larger puzzle, women do have children everyday, but when 90% of the women you spent time adoring end up falling into this category, you feel cheated. The two women who don't end up carrying on the tradition of motherhood end up having the same complicated reveal, which still doesn’t allow them to land on their own independent feet. It’s an understanding that not all women stay childless, that this is a natural occurrence, but it also should be an acknowledged that not all women/wives become mothers.
In ensemble films, it’s hard not to fall into the formulaic trap that all the characters on screen live within the same social circle. It may be a small world, but it’s still large enough that you won’t run into the same people time and time again. With not having the giant gathering of characters in the midst of the narrative allowed for the individual stories to develop and grow.
These separate environments stood on their own, creating miniature worlds of complete stories for the audience to explore and become engrossed in. This isn’t to say that this is an element that is faithful throughout, there are a few situations where stories cross over. The quickness or the emotional impact of this choice, however, largely outweighs the model response of this feature.
Speaking to the ensemble film, Mothers and Daughters elegantly continues the tradition of having a stellar cast. These are actors that you know, ones that you have grown up with and have always loved. We are seeing them perform with their unbending talent in these roles that are somewhat off center from their normal base, and its perfect. Someone’s mother tends to be the stereotypical category all blossomed actress fall into once they’ve reached a particular age in Hollywood, yet that did not seem the case in this film. Yes, it was a character trait of these roles, but the richness of these mothers went beyond the box they are usually placed in. Each of them is their own person outside their family dynamics and are just as strong as their respected daughters. No matter what the character description was for these women, they were all fully explored and realized, creating a beautiful template for the actresses to explore.
That can’t be said, though, for some of the males in the film. As by the implication of the title, this film was dedicated to the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and to be frank the male counterpart doesn’t need to be reviewed. While there are males interacting with the women, and who do so with an emotional center that rivals their partners, the ones that stand on their own lack in several well-defined characteristics. To say they were shells of pigeonholed labels would be too harsh, but there is definitely room for improvement. The unexplored male stories in the film easily lead to superficial undertones, and with them being surrounded by such powerful women can seem disjointing.
No matter what the exploration of elements in the film may reveal, the important aspect above everything is the way the movie makes the audience feel. There may be elements that one could be less than thrilled about, but the love that I shared with these women about my mother surpasses the negative. The relationships manifested in this film were varied and complicated, and perfect. Not all mothers and daughters have a parallel relationship to the ones standing next to them, and that is perfectly okay. We are all a part of this larger picture, and no matter what the circumstances may be, we are in this together and forever. Mothers can be idolized for their beauty and warmth, or resented for their lack of emotional bond or stringent attitude; but each one of them is ours and only ours.
Mothers and Daughters opens in theaters and on VOD via Screen Media Films on Friday May 6th.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by PRODIGY PR