Mother and daughter relationships love to dominate screens
As “The Truth” so carefully showcases, movies about mothers and daughters can be enlightening as well as entertaining.
Here are seven of my favorite films about this most fascinating relationship.
Lady Bird (2017)
Sometimes our efforts, as parents, to shape the choices our children make can backfire because we have taught our children to take care of themselves. In this pitch-perfect comedy from Greta Gerwig, Laurie Metcalf shines as a mother so focused on the routine of running a household that she momentarily forgets when to open the windows for air. Saoirse Ronan delights as a young woman who simply needs a lot of air.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Sometimes a parent can want too much for a child, certainly too much for that child to absorb at any given time. Robert Harling’s tribute to his sister celebrates the love a mother and daughter share despite how they can frustrate each other. And, in the hands of Sally Field and Julia Roberts, these women teach all of us what it means to unconditionally support the people we love even when we hurt the most.
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Sometimes the love two people share cannot consistently bridge the issues that create disagreement and disappointment. Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger shine as a mother and daughter who deeply love each other and at the same time they successfully discover their differences. But, when it counts, they are there for each other. James L. Brooks’ Oscar winner may be the most touching portrayal of a mother and daughter ever captured on screen.
Only When I Laugh (1981)
Sometimes mothers have their own issues to address, experiences that friends and family may find challenging to absorb. In this drama by Neil Simon, Marsha Mason shines as a successful actress who battles her demons at the cost of her relationship with her teenage daughter. But they care so much for each other that, no matter what can hurt, they try to find what they share that makes them smile.
Autumn Sonata (1978)
Sometimes, as parents, we can let our focus on our careers get in the way of our commitments to our children. We don’t intend to let this happen, but it can and, after years, the patterns of disappointment can lead to resentment. Ingmar Bergman’s striking drama portrays a successful woman who manages to thrill every audience she reaches except the one, at home, that may matter most. Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann simply thrill.
The Turning Point (1977)
Sometimes, as parents, what we hope our children can experience can, by mistake, become a way for us to work through our own regrets. In this drama about the world of ballet, Shirley MacLaine portrays a mother who certainly hopes her daughter succeeds on stage but may not be able to regret what she once gave up. Anne Bancroft costars in a film that reminds us how what we want for our families doesn’t always come easily.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Sometimes parents with the best of intentions can be surprised to discover how overwhelming their love can be. In this classic soap opera from director Michael Curtiz, Joan Crawford portrays a successful business woman more at home at work than at home with her daughter, the perky Ann Blyth. As they explore what they should mean to each other, we see how far apart people once close to each other can drift.
Yes, films about mothers and daughters can remind us what’s involved in these most essential relationships.
See you at the movies.