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seven movie mums for mother’s day viewing

Mums are awesome: first they bring you into the world, then they care for you, simultaneously making you feel unconditionally loved yet that you could be making better choices in your life. Or is that just me? In celebration of Mother’s Day and mothers, here is a collection of film mothers. For one reason or another, these portrayals of motherhood will probably make you want to give your own mum a big hug.


Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest (1981)

Mommie Dearest the movie is based on a memoir written by Christina Crawford, Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter. Faye Dunaway plays Joan and is as captivating as she is terrifying. An abusive alcoholic, this is a pretty bleak portrait of a mother, but the movie is so dramatic and camp and the performances so committed that it’s definitely entertaining. Check out the famous ‘wire hangers’ scene. It will probably make you grateful for your mum. If not, it will definitely make you rethink your clothes-hanging technique.


Lorraine in Back to the Future (1985)

Do you ever wonder what your mum was like when she was young? Do you wonder if you’d be friends if you were the same age? Back to the Future answers these questions and then some. Lea Thompson is adorable as Lorraine Baines. She’s sweet, but not as sweet as you think. When her son Marty – played with infectious enthusiasm by Michael J Fox – travels back in time to 1955 she falls in love with him. How does this movie make incest so charming? I don’t know. But this is a unique and funny look at motherhood in a movie that never gets old.


Mrs Flax in Mermaids (1990)

I’m aware I may be in the minority here, but I love this movie. Cher is awesome. She stars as Mrs Flax, mother to Charlotte (Winona Ryder) and Kate (Christina Ricci). It’s set in the 60s so the fact she’s a single mother is already scandalous. But she’s also flamboyantly inappropriate and embarrassing to her teenage daughter. She doesn’t cook, she’s a serial flirt and her hair is huge. She’s independent and a bit more selfish than most mums we see in movies and Cher’s deadpan delivery is on point.


Karen in Love Actually (2003)

As Karen in this love-fest of a movie, Emma Thompson is the ideal British mum. She’s funny and patient and a pillar of strength. She keeps a stiff upper lip when she discovers her husband is cheating and she indulges her children in their papier-mâché pursuits.  She’s a good friend and wears very sensible sweaters. Perhaps it’s asking a bit much for all mums to be strong and selfless, but in this movie, Karen is the kind of mum you’d want by your side. And with that aurally pleasing accent, I’m sure she’d rock a bedtime story.


Jules and Nic in The Kids are All Right (2010)

What’s better than one mum? Two mums! Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are cool. They must be because they’ve raised two really cool kids. They drink a lot of wine, they watch porn, and one of them has an affair – wait, that’s not cool. They try to act like they’re fine with their kids tracking down their biological father but it makes them nervous. This portrayal of motherhood is warts and all. We see them as people, not just ‘mums’ or ‘wives’. And they’re not perfect, but they’re trying to work it all out.  And isn’t that the best we can all hope to do?


Betty in The Way Way Back (2013)

Everyone in this cute coming-of-age story is a little dysfunctional, but Allison Janney as Betty is truly glorious. She’s constantly drunk and always calling out how weird she finds her surprisingly well-adjusted cross-eyed son, Peter. He tells her she’s ‘the worst parent’. But she’s not quite. She’s just blunt and inappropriate and good at obliviously crushing the fragile self-esteem of her children. But it’s a good training ground. If your mum can’t prepare you for the horrors of the world, then who can?


Mom in Boyhood (2014)

Patricia Arquette as ‘Mom’ is not just a scene-stealer, she’s a film-stealer. This movie’s called Boyhood, but the story of motherhood is at its heart. This is an authentic portrayal aided by the fact the film was shot over twelve years. There are things time does to all of the actors that prosthetics can’t. And the journey of this mum is raw and real yet subtle. There’s a beautiful scene where her son packs for college. She tells him it’s the worst day of her life and he doesn’t get it. But how can he? Mums do so much just to see us flourish. So, why not go tell your mum you love her.

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