By Saibal Chatterjee
Wildly differing in sum and substance, these ten titles are drawn from a range of genres – from cinematic masterpieces to fluffy entertainers. Watch them with an open where necessary, and enjoy the star turns when the theme appears to be bordering on the stale. Almodovar and Cuaron deliver masterclasses, Shonali Bose crafts a bright-eyed tearjerker, and the likes of Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Aniston add life to less than satisfactory fare. The idea is to celebrate motherhood no matter what. You can stream it right now.
Sex and the City and Modern Family writer Cindy Chupack’s directorial debut, Otherhood, is a comedy about three suburban women, feeling left out on Mother’s Day, decide to call on their adult sons in New York City unannounced. Complications ensue. The 2019 film hasn’t garnered great reviews but can be watched for the performances of the three leads – Patrician Arquette, Angela Bassett and Felicity Huffman.
Director Garry Marshall’s last film, Mother’s Day is a 2016 dramedy about a bunch of Atlanta moms, led by Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Julia Roberts, dealing with a host of issues related to their offspring. Again, like Otherhood, Mother’s Day isn’t the greatest movie you will ever see, but you can watch it nonetheless for the sprightly cast that does its best to liven up the proceedings.
An arthouse classic that deserves to be more widely seen than it has thus far been, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma focuses on a soft-spoken woman, Cleo, who works as a surrogate mother to three children of a middle-class Mexican family while coping with an unwanted pregnancy of her own. It is the director’s fond remembrance of the housekeeper who raised him. Deliberately paced, masterfully shot and edited, Roma is an exceptional film.
This 1999 Oscar-winning masterpiece from Pedro Almodovar goes beyond being a film about a mother. It is about the meaning of motherhood itself. A nurse loses the teenage son she raised on her own. The distraught woman travels to Barcelona to look for the boy’s lost-lost father. Her maternal instincts are re-aroused as she forges deep ties with a pregnant, HIV-positive nun, a popular stage actress and a transgender sex-worker. A film awash with beauty and compassion.
Jointly directed by Paul Duddridge and Nigel Levy, this 2016 film examines the relationships between several mother and daughters. A filmmaker (Selma Blair) captures the ties on film eve as she tries to mend fences with her own estranged mother. The film’s ensemble cast is led by Susan Sarandon and includes her real-life daughter Eva Amurri, besides Christina Ricci, Mira Sorvino, Courtney Cox and Sharon Stone.
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, Freaky Friday is a body-switch fantasy comedy in which a woman and her daughter assume each other’s personalities. Anna is peeved that her mom does not support her musical aspiration; the mother, a widow about to remarry, is upset that the girl cannot stand her fiancé. When the freaky exchange happens, well, there is bedlam.
Not so much about a mother as a whole family, Shonali Bose’s is rumination on death and the process of coming to terms with it, delivered in a style that embraces a zest for life and positivity. Priyanka Chopra Jonas brings star power to the true story of a girl with a terminal illness and the determination of her parents to make the last days of her life as pleasurable as possible. Sensitive and poignant but entertaining.
This is the odd one out on this list: Private Life (2018) is the story of a woman who wants to be a mother but is running out of time. Oscar-nominated director Tamara Jenkins teams up with actors Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn and Kayli Carter to deliver a tender tale of a couple in their 40s desperately trying to be parents. The film is a humorous exploration of marriage, intimacy and a desire for motherhood. Watchable all the way.
The beginning is harrowing. A five-year-old boy is separated from his family and ends up on the streets of Kolkata. The climax is heartbreaking. Twenty-five years later, the protagonist, now an adoptive son of an Australian couple, goes back in search of his biological mother, Lion, directed by debutant Garth Davis, spins a true tale that is emotionally uplifting and wonderfully well-acted by a cast that includes Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and David Wenham.
A crime drama on Mother’s Day? Well Mom, starring Sridevi, is worth a shot. It tells the story a mother who will stop at nothing to avenge the rape of her step daughter, a girl with whom her relationship has been choppy. Bolstered by a strong central performance, this is a gut-wrenching film that employs the tropes of a revenge saga to address questions surrounding safety of women and distortions in law enforcement.