by Leona

Motherhood, though seemingly a universal and ancient institution, comes as varied as the women who take on the role. There are those who relish in motherhood and would walk through fire for their children. There are those who are only too willing to be mothers, yet they are robbed of the chance. And then there are those who find the mantle of motherhood thrust upon them but eventually, though reluctantly, grow into the role. With Mother’s Day coming up, let’s celebrate with the three quirky and wildly different mothers we’ve seen on the silver screen.



Philomena is a poignant tale of an accidental mother’s love and steely resolve. Based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by journalist Martin Sixsmith, the movie is based on the moving, true story of Philomena Lee, a victim of the follies of youth and a treacherous convent system.

Knocked up at 18, the Irish Philomena (Dame Judi Dench) was sent to live in an abbey in Ireland back in 1951. After giving birth, she lived with her son at the convent and worked there until he was sold by the church at the age of 3 without Philomena’s consent. Devastated, she left the abbey for England, and eventually started her own family. She kept her dark past hidden from them for five decades, during which she tried with little success, to locate her son. She ultimately revealed this secret to her daughter, who approached Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) to write about her mother’s story. Intrigued, Sixsmith decides to investigate and together with Philomena, the pair traverse Ireland on an arduous search for her son- Anthony. With little to work on, they constantly hit dead ends until getting a breakthrough lead that takes them to the United States, only to discover that Anthony, whose adopted name was Michael, had already died. Although she was denied the chance to shower her son with love, Philomena finds solace that she could at last, reunite with her son, even if posthumously.

Steve Coogan won a BAFTA award for adapted screenplay

Instead of becoming embittered, Philomena channels her energy into bringing awareness to the questionable Catholic adoption policies and set up The Philomena Project to raise awareness and improve adoption laws.

Meet the Real-Life Philomena

Won't Back Down

Won't Back Down

Some mothers will go to extreme lengths to ensure their children get the best out of life, especially when it comes to education. Won't Back Down centres on a mother’s fortitude in stopping at nothing for her child to grow and flourish. 

The movie is loosely based on real life events back in 2010, where some parents in California got together to bring about change in the administration of a badly performing school. The film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as working class mother Jamie Fitzpatrick, a car dealer by day and a bartender by night, who aims to move her dyslexic daughter from being stagnated in her current class into the caring hands of a more devoted teacher- Nona Alberts (Viola Davis). 

Like navigating a tough obstacle course, she is faced with challenge after challenge, and finds herself swamped by bureaucracy, corruption and resistance from the teacher’s union president (Holly Hunter) and school principal (Bill Nunn). When she’s had enough, Jamie bands with Nona, and the pair set out on a mission to right the wrongs of the failing school system. 

Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal on Motherhood

August: Osage County

August: Osage County

Not all mothers are maternal. Based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize- winning play of the same name, August: Osage County tells the tale of a dysfunctional family you want no part of. 
The Weston family gets together for an unexpected family reunion when family Patriarch, Beverly (Sam Shepard), goes mysteriously missing. The get-together quickly unfolds into a melodramatic episode when drug addict matriarch Violet (Meryl Streep) unleashes her acid tongue on the family, leaving no one unscathed. This includes her sister Mattie (Margo Martindale), her three daughters, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis), and Barbara’s husband (Ewan McGregor) and daughter (Abigail Breslin).


Soon, it turns out that Beverly had drowned, and Violet’s verbal assault turns into a tornado on a destructive path, ploughing through each family member, opening wounds and binging to surface issues the family tries to bury. Strong-willed Barbara tries to counter her mom’s caustic behaviour with some success; she confiscates her pills in hope for her to sober up. A drug-free Violet is revealed to be a vulnerable woman, long broken by her own mother’s cruel actions. She shares a brief, tender moment with her daughters, but swiftly returns to her usual vileness.


The star-studded ensemble cast comprising Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper and Dermot Mulroney shares great chemistry that will make you believe they are indeed, a weird dysfunctional family unit. Streep’s Violet though is in a league of her own. Her abrasive behaviour makes you hate her, but her vulnerability evokes your sympathy. In the end, she’s the reluctant mother you’re glad you don’t have.

August: Osage County - Behind the Scenes