Overview: THE (DEAD MOTHERS) CLUB tells the story of three women whose paths never cross, yet are bound by the shared experience of losing their mothers during adolescence, exploring each one’s sometimes-complex relationship with her mother. Directed by first-time filmmakers Carlye Rubin and Katie Green, who are themselves members of “the club,” it also includes insights from Rosie O’Donnell (one of the executive producers), Molly Shannon and Jane Fonda, who share their own experiences with losing a mother.
At a baby shower in New York City, Leticia, a 29-year-old with Brazilian roots, celebrates the impending birth of her first child with friends and family. Her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all died from breast cancer as the result of a hereditary gene mutation. You can’t live in fear,” she says, “That’s the big lesson my mother taught us.” “Art is a curse and a blessing,” says Ginger, a talented southern artist who struggled to make her mother understand her artistic ambitions as a child. She enjoyed the freedom college offered, and argued with her mother on a visit home. After their tumultuous relationship ended dramatically, Ginger was haunted by the heated argument that turned out to be their last exchange. Since her mother’s death from cancer five years ago, 17-year-old Jordyn has taken on the maternal role in her younger sister Brooke’s life, while focusing her energy on getting good grades. Wishing to be close to her sister, yet wanting to pursue her own goals, she knows now how much of an impact her mother’s absence has had on all their lives. “We never realized that the whole thing could be even more life-changing than it was at the time.”
Also in separate interviews, Rosie O’Donnell, Molly Shannon and Jane Fonda – who all lost their mothers before age 12 – recall heartbreaking and touching experiences, reflecting on their struggles and the impact losing their mothers had on them. THE (DEAD MOTHERS) CLUB is directed by Carlye Rubin and Katie Green; edited by Tina Grapenthin; original music, Mike Thies; produced by Carlye Rubin, Katie Green and Tina Grapenthin; senior producer, Lisa Heller; executive producers, Sheila Nevins, Rosie O’Donnell, Regina Kulik Scully and David Rubin.
Expectations: Since this documentary premieres on Mother’s Day 2014 I have to say it is an unique way to tribute moms. I am sure through the testimonies of each of these women in the film that we will learn the value of all our mothers. One thing that appears evident by the descriptions above is that the focus is on birth mothers though we all know the definition could extend beyond just those females who pushed life from their wombs; nevertheless this heart-felt 72 minutes should do us good. Here is the trailer that we can use to set the tone.
Gut Reaction: THE (DEAD MOTHERS) CLUB is everything you’d expect it to be. It is an affirmation of the title of Mother. For those who have lost theirs it is a bonding moment with fellow sisters that makes you a member of the club and for the rest of us it is a reminder to not take your mother for granted and embrace her and respect her now while you still have here nearby.
Having given my positive thought to it here now is want I didn’t like about it. These stories are not exclusive stories about daughters losing their mothers at an early age. Leticia’s story is more about her sense of family and how she will deal with her genetic inheritance of the breast cancer gene. Jordyn seems to stress more over her schooling than anything and Ginger anguishes over her art. I realize they may all do so because Mother was not there to help them along, but the stories just seem like more about those issues, that could affect anyone, than about the loss of mom.
Each daughter does share thoughts about the lady that gave them birth, but contrasted against the more descriptive, emotive and dramatic celebrities, Jane, Molly and Rosie, the non-celebrities seemed almost flat in their sharing. Thankfully, though they were genuine. However, I leaned in and listened more intently to what Jane Fonda had to say.
In Conclusion: It was a hit and miss documentary. I understand the intent and that intent was achieved, but I thought it could have done so a bit better since I thought it traveled a bit off-topic. Other viewers might think otherwise, maybe those who actually are members of the club, and I understand that too. My concluding thought as the credits rolled was of the inclusion of Molly Shannon (pictured) in the piece. The last time we saw her on HBO she was playing a concerned daughter afraid to leave her mother’s bedside in GETTING ON. I wondered if she had gravitated to that role as therapy for her because she never got to dote over an elderly mother before and she wishes she had had the opportunity.
THE (DEAD MOTHERS) CLUB continues to air on HBO on 05.15 at 9:00am; 05.18 at 3:00pm; 05.21 at 5:00pm 05.23 at 3:15pm; 05.28 at 10:15am and 4:40am; 05.31 at 12:5pm and on HBOGo.