Mother’s day is right around the corner and the status quo is to shower mothers with love and adoration because all of them have S’s on their chest and I have no qualms with that but let’s spare a thought for terrible moms out there, they also I’m sure would some appreciation. Last year I blogged on 5 of my worst dads on the big screen so in the name of gender equality and solidarity, I give you 5ofthe worst mothers in cinema, well at least those I’ve seen.


Ben Affleck’s neo noir drama presgoneents us with Helene; drunk, coke addict, drug mule and your usual mom of the year material.  The story’s base is morally nuanced and our represented mother follows that mould in some respects. The kidnapping of her daughter drives the story and Helene is obviously distraught but don’t let the tears and the concern fool you, she is a terrible mom. She was at a bar doing coke when her daughter was taken, a bar she frequently drags her little girl to. Her brother recounts a time she left her in a car on a scorching day to bake and hell, she even carried her along on a drug mule expedition. (Spoiler) She does get her child back but the worst thing is, she doesn’t seem chastised by the experience. Its back to the same old ways for her.



August Osage County was easily one of my most enjoyable films from last year and the matriarchs on show year are “in rare form”. Violet is obviously takes centre stage and is herself quite vituperative but her younger sister, Mattie, takes top honours here. She torments her quiet borderline haplessness son, little Charlie who is just a timid wreck. I believe the first thing she says something to him are “You goddamn klutzy goofball”. Kids like Charlie need extra love but like she says of him, “I gave up a long time ago”. She digs at him for things ranging from dropping a bowl of casserole to watching Wife Swap. She has nothing but mean stuff to say about him and as far as she’s concerned, he is a walking disappointment. Mothers are supposed to encourage you, mothers are to lift you up and mothers are to build their child’s self-esteem – but not good old mama Mattie.


Sticking with August Osage County, on my second viewing, I was somewhat struck by how emotionally distressing it tried to be. Most of the time, it’s just an overly dramatic contrivance but in some cases it did succeed. V and Mattie cause havoc for much of the film and most of who they are is ostensibly down to their Mother. We never see her on screen but V tells her daughter a story from her childhood that more than paints a devastating picture of her. Her seemingly heart-warming tale begins with a pair of cowboy boots she desperately wanted for Christmas as a child, and it ends with the bitter recollection of opening a beautifully wrapped boot-sized box on Christmas morning only to find “a pair of boots, men’s work boots, holes in the toes, chewed-up laces, caked in mud and dog shit. Lord, my momma laughed for days.” That bit was the only time I really felt for Mattie and Violet.


“Don’t nobody want you, don’t nobody need you” monique-precious

Mary here is by far the most harrowing entry on the list. The distressing story of Precious and her struggle to make it out of her mother’s abusive clutches is difficult to watch. There’s nothing redeeming about Mary, and the above line sums up everything about her relationship with her daughter. She is responsible for making her daughter overweight, infecting her daughter with HIV, allowing her father to rape her, and forcing her to quit school for welfare. She tries to justify her actions down the years but we just realise Mary’s always been in it for herself, favouring Precious’ sexually abusive father over her innocent baby. She and others like her should never have kids.


Those of us old enough will remember this one. One of the most amusing tropes for me growing up was the archetypal evil Ghanaian stepmother who showed to wreak havoc in many a films. She worms her way in when his wife dies during child birth and marriage follows. From the get go, she has it in for the kids especially if she brings her own into the marriage. She’s glowing and smiling when dad is around but in his absence, the kids’ ears are in her enduring vice grip. Woe betides the kids if dad just happens to catch a stroke or she even goes overboard and spices his food with some juju, they are in for a world of hell. The kids basically become slaves, selling, cooking, cleaning, the whole nine yards and mind you the kids aren’t that old, basically 7 – 10 year olds. On the bright side, they almost always end well. Some aunt or uncle swoops in and saves the day. They don’t make’em like that anymore.

Published by Delali Adogla-Bessa

Lover of the bleaker pleasures of cinema... and some good trash.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: