Happy Mother’s Day...if possible? If you’re a mom, then you know that motherhood is not all baking cookies and planting roses. In fact, it would be far more accurate and realistic to wish moms a “well-rested Mother’s Day” or a “stress-free Mother’s Day,” or better yet, a “let someone else do all the work this Mother’s Day.” Forget the flowers and macaroni necklaces and give the moms in your life a day of absolute quiet this year. Because in real life, being a mother is hard, sometimes grueling, even traumatic, so why shy away from these real experiences on screen? If you’re like us, then you want to see the messy, ugly, unadulterated version of what it’s like to be a real-life mom. Here are nine titles that portray motherhood, uncensored.
On the surface, Marina is an ordinary woman living an ordinary suburban life. She’s married to a successful surgeon, has two beautiful daughters, and runs a flower shop in Moscow. But behind this perfect middle-class façade is an entire double life that’s far from ordinary. Marina is actually using her shop as a front for a lucrative escort business. And while her daughters and husband all have their own secrets, Marina’s could cost her everything. When one of her sex workers is found dead, she’ll have to clean up the mess while keeping her family intact.
Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz is at the top of her game as Magda, a woman who is diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer as she meets Arturo, a man also struck by tragedy. As they each brave their respective battles, they form an unexpected bond, along with her son, and form an unexpected family unit. Through fighting her disease, Magda sees her life transform in positive, even miraculous, ways, a reminder that unimaginable tragedy can give way to unimaginable joy.
Is a mother expected to give her life to her family? And if she doesn’t, does that make her a villain? Part noir whodunit, part dark comedy, with a sharp dash of absurdist tragedy, “Ema” follows Elsa, a small-town woman who’s assumed the role of 24-hour caregiver to her comatose son, Lauri. When the investigation into Lauri’s mysterious gun attack stalls, the town’s rumor mill starts churning and the people who knew Lauri best start revealing questionable motives, including Elsa herself. The more trapped she feels in her claustrophobic new reality, the more she strays from her role as dutiful wife and mother.
What kind of mother walks out on her own children? Whatever immediate assumptions you might have will go out the window as you watch “Come Home.” Marie and Greg were a happily married couple with three beautiful kids until one day Marie walks out on them, seemingly for no reason, leaving Greg to pick up the pieces. The series is told from multiple perspectives: Greg, who struggles to be a single dad; the kids, who are disoriented living in the void their mother left; but the most complex perspective is Marie’s, which reminds us that marriage and kids are not everyone’s happily ever after, and that’s OK.
What happens when mothers are still children themselves? In this moving drama, Milla and Leo are two teenagers madly in love. With an us-against-the-world bond, they live off the grid in a world of their own creation, a world just for two. But when Milla becomes pregnant, two becomes one, and when she gives birth, her world has changed altogether. What begins as a lover’s dream leads to an abrupt, but much-needed reawakening.
This is literally every mother’s worst nightmare. Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a matriarch whose son shows very troubling signs from an early age. As a young child, he tortures her with his petulance and rejects her affection. When the family has a second child, he turns his increasingly sadistic curiosity onto his younger sister. As a mother, what can Eva do but give her son endless chances to reform? But like a car crash set in motion, the story leads you uneasily, but unflinchingly to a shocking conclusion that you won’t soon forget. You will question everything you knew about family.
Val spends her life taking care of another family, but when her own daughter, Jessica, shows up one day, Val’s life is thrown into chaos. Unburdened by the social and class boundaries of the house, Jessica starts making herself at home, to her mother’s frustration. Jessica’s arrival makes Val evaluate where her loyalties lie—with the family she’s come to consider her own or with her biological daughter she barely knows?
If a father chooses to leave his children, he’s still considered a father. But what happens if a mother does the same? For many, she’d be labeled a pariah. In this short documentary, three women who made the decision to mother from afar share their stories and get candid about how their lives have changed since leaving their children. At a time when alternative family models are becoming more common and accepted, the film examines this societal double standard and asks: why are non-custodial mothers still so taboo?
He Even Has Your Eyes
Fourteen years ago, Paul and Sali Aloka, a Black couple, adopted Benjamin, a white baby boy, who was joined by a biological little brother, Noé, shortly after. Though they might not look like an ordinary family, the four are as stable and happy as can be...until Paul’s estranged father shows up and inspires Benjamin to meet his own biological parents. As the Alokas help him search and learn about his biological mother, Sali starts to have existential questions about motherhood. Will Benjamin have enough room in his life for two moms?