2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A bold opportunity showing loss and self-reflection (and a certain amount of self-motivation)
Steve Pulaski from United States
15 May 2014
"It's like a club; you're initiated, you're in a club - it is not going
away." - Rosie O'Donnell, The (Dead Mothers) Club.
The (Dead Mothers) Club premieres on HBO the day after Mother's Day in
America, an airdate that is likely not a coincidence. I always rolled
my eyes at all the "lonely" and "depressed" singles on Valentine's Day
that would gripe about spending the day eating their hearts out or
spending time in solidarity. Some people don't have mothers on Mother's
Day, fathers on Father's Day, or grandparents on Grandparents Day, and
you really want to blog about your issues with being single on a
contrived day where elements of marketing and guilt dominate? Spare me.
The (Dead Mothers) Club is a documentary that will make you grateful to
have your mother in your life or comforted through relatability by
people who share your position if you don't. Despite headlining
familiar names such as Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell, and Molly Shannon,
celebrities whose mothers died when they were all young, the film sets
its main focus on common-people, one ready for college, another raising
her young child, who have experienced tragedy with the lack of a female
parental force to care for them.
One of the girls is Leticia, a clearly strong woman, whose mother died
from a rare genetic mutation. Leticia is in the middle of raising a
very young daughter when a test finds that she also had the rare
mutation and that the flawed gene has spread throughout every cell in
her body. She now has to put up the same fight her mother did and lost.
Another girl we center on is Ginger, a wise, artistic young woman, who
loves reflecting on her mother's personality and sensibilities. Her
mother always worried because she was an art student that she'd never
get the work she truly deserved. Ginger has found great success at
painting and crafting stacking dolls and uses that as her means of
Finally, there's Jordyn, who is ready to enter college. A smart,
beautiful young woman, she is definitely one of the most precocious
teenage girls I've seen in a while, moved by legacy and persistency
rather than impulsive behavior. She struggles to make the right
decision about college without her mother's input.
Fonda, O'Donnell, and Shannon pop up every now and then to talk about
their mother's impact and how their death affected them. Fonda's mom
killed herself when she was twelve, and Fonda lived with that grief
until she was sixty-four, when she realized it wasn't her fault after
all. O'Donnell's mom died when she was ten, while Shannon's died in a
car accident when she was only four.
Directresses Katie Green and Carlye Rubin refrain from milking
sentimentality out of these stories, which is an element I've seen
thankfully lacking in HBO documentaries. Despite films that bear titles
and topics (IE: grief camps for children and a veteran in prison for
life embracing his final days to name a few) that almost instantly make
one tear up, these documentaries nicely avoid the sappier elements and
exploiting certain situations emotionally.
It's often that I casually fault HBO's short documentaries for not
being long enough and stating that many of them could easily be of
feature length; The (Dead Mothers) Club, which runs at seventy minutes,
give or take, could've easily been just as successful in its message
with about thirty minutes trimmed off. The film begins to run circles
around its ideas, and while we learn about the stories of the film's
main characters, there's not much else we can say other than these are
fine young women who are growing up without mothers and are likely
going to make interesting, well-developed people. What about the young
males who lack the female sensitivity and guidance in their lives? What
about those who have become emotionally troubled without their mother
in their life?
If The (Dead Mothers) Club had to be seventy minutes in length,
horizons could've been broadened and alternate routes could've been
taken to give more thematic resonance to these stories other than
having the audience recognize that they are indeed unfortunate.
However, because it takes a necessary topic and fuels it was material
and substance that isn't directly geared to exploit its subjects and
the sentiment at hand, (and, in turn, winds up being very personal and
often moving) the film does possess considerable merit.
NOTE: The (Dead Mothers) Club will air throughout the month of May 2014
Starring: Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell, and Molly Shannon. Directed by:
Katie Green and Carlye Rubin.
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