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'night, Mother (1986)

7.5
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What would you do if someone you loved sat down with you one night and calmly told you that they were going to end their life before morning? This is Thelma Cates' dilemma. Her daughter, ... See full summary »

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Title: 'night, Mother (1986)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Stars: Anne Bancroft, Peter Finch, James Mason
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Jessie Cates
...
Thelma Cates
Ed Berke ...
Dawson Cates
Carol Robbins ...
Loretta Cates
Jennifer Roosendahl ...
Melodie Cates
Michael Kenworthy ...
Kenny Cates
Sari Walker ...
Agnes Fletcher
Claire Malis ...
Operator (voice)
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Storyline

What would you do if someone you loved sat down with you one night and calmly told you that they were going to end their life before morning? This is Thelma Cates' dilemma. Her daughter, Jessie, has had it. A middle-aged epileptic unable to hold a job or drive with a failed marriage and a drug-addicted runaway son on the wrong side of the law, Jessie can find no reason to go on living. Adapted from the play by Marsha Norman, "'night, Mother" is the story of a parent's worst nightmare. How can Thelma convince her daughter that life is worth living if she can't feel her pain? How can she end her daughter's embrace of death before morning? Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>/Reid Taylor

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It happened in 1983. It was a rare and remarkable theatrical experience. Controversial. Provocative. And shocking. Now, two Academy Award-winning actresses make the Pulitzer Prize-winning play the motion picture event of the year.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 January 1987 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Boa Noite Mãe  »

Box Office

Gross:

$442,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was originally a Broadway play, written by Marsha Norman and directed by Tom Moore, both of whom returned for the movie adaptation. The production opened at the John Golden Theater on March 31, 1983, ran for 380 performances, and was nominated for four Tony Awards: Best Play, Best Actress in a Play (both Kathy Bates and Anne Pitoniak), and Best Director. Despite losing at the Tony's, the play won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was revived on Broadway in 2004. See more »

Quotes

Thelma: People don't kill themselves, Jessie. It's doesn't make sense, unless you're retarded or deranged, and you're as normal as they come, Jessie, for the most part. We're all afraid to die!
Jessie: I'm not, Mama. It's exactly what I want. It's dark and quiet.
Thelma: So's the backyard, Jessie.
Jessie: So quiet, I don't know it's quiet, so nobody can get me.
Thelma: Dead might not be quiet at all, Jessie. What if it's like an alarm clock, and you can't wake up, so you can't shut it off... ever!
Jessie: Dead is everbody and everything I ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in CSI: NY: Night, Mother (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"Jesus was a suicide, if you ask me."
10 January 2001 | by (Mesa, AZ) – See all my reviews

That is just one of the thought provoking lines from this movie. There are many. And while most of the reviewers praise the acting in this movie, and rightly so since it is a tour de force, I have to give praise to Marsha Norman who adapted her own Pulitzer Prize winning stage play for the screen.

When a movie is a "slice of life" such as this one, I unconsciously look for good and realistic dialog. There are just so many lines in this movie that ring true to real life conversations. There's a part where the Mom (Bancroft) tells Jessie (Spacek) to call her ex-husband up & try again, he might be ready and Jessie tells her that there's no point in calling him up because what's she gonna say, "nothing's changed, I'd just like to look at you if you don't mind?" In another scene Jessie compares life to a bus ride. She says it's hot, crowded & noisy and the only reason you don't get off is that your destination is 10 stops away. She says if she gets off now, or later, it's the same place when she steps down to it. In another part of the movie she says that she thought about sticking around if there was just something that she really liked, like rice pudding or cornflakes- but Jessie is a person robbed of any enthusiasm for life. So for her, staying around, especially for others, just doesn't make sense any more- she's had enough.

I really don't think Marsha was asking us to agree w/that point of view or to even condone it. I think she was just giving us some perspective- another point of view. And I have to admit, after having seen this many times, maybe Jessie made the right decision. As she also says in the movie, she is what *became* of her (Bancroft's) child. That she, Jessie, that might have made a difference to herself, didn't show up. Which is really food for thought for ANYone watching this movie- make a difference to yourself first and foremost. Despite the movie being about suicide, this is actually a life affirming movie if you look at it from that point of view.

The "acting" (I say that in parenthesis because it's so real it doesn't even seem like acting) from Spacek and Bancroft is absolutely first rate. I would recommend this movie on that score alone. Luckily, with the powerful and thought-provoking screenplay and the lovely music by Dave Grusin, there is much to recommend this heart wrenching tale of life and death.


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