The miracle of “Mothers &
New York Daily News
By Eric Mink
Story of Mothers & Daughters is a miraculous,
film, less than an hour long, vast in its reach, firm in its grasp, deep in its
touch. It is no more than its
title indicates, and no less – and you owe it to yourself to see it.
and directed by award-winning film makers Gary Weimberg, Catherine Ryan and
Judith Leonard, the film premieres tonight at 8 on ABC.
seems bold, even audacious, for a documentary to promise the story of mothers and daughers. How could such a varied, profound,
complex and organic relationship be captured on film and squeezed into a mere
47 minutes of running time?
Wouldn’t the inevitable simplification of the process destroy the
integrity of the project? Isn’t
pap the likely result?
answers to those questions are, “I don’t know,” “probably” and “yes.” And the miracle of The Story of
Mothers & Daughters is that it
fulfills the promise of its title, obstacles notwithstanding.
mainly through interviews with a gloriously diverse rainbow of women – and a
few adorable little girls in tutus – the story overflows with the natural
complexity of its subject. The
women speak of love, joy, teaching and learning. They speak of fear, uncertainty and exasperation. And of anguish, abandonment
this story honestly, in other words, means honoring the reality of
relationships that exist on many levels as time unfolds and that occasionally
even disintegrate in bitterness and recrimination. Those aspects of the relationships aren’t overemphasized or
exploited for dramatic purposes, but neither are they ignored.
Story of Mothers & Daughters divides
neatly into five chapters organized around the progressive stages of life: Birth,
Growing Up, Separation, Woman to
Woman, and Death and Renewal. Many
of the more than 50 women interviewed – mothers, daughters and grand-daughters
– appear in more than one chapter, lending the film continuity as well as a sense
of a blossom opening to reveal the layers of petals within.
producers and cinematographer Joan Churchill got these women to bare their
emotions is another miracle. This
is especially so with stories that are dark and regretful. “I was the product
of a date rape,” one
woman says, explaining why her birth mother gave her up for adoption. Another middle-aged
woman defines her
relationship with her mother by saying “guilt, anger, emptiness and fear,” and
gives a heartrending example.
the end though – reinforced by a poignant original score by Todd Boekelheide,
and snippets of songs by Bonnie Raitt, the Supremes, Doris Day, Suzy Bogguss
and the Chi Lites -- The
Story of Mothers & Daughters finds a universal core at the center of all the unique
stories told by all its distinctive women. To every thing, it concludes without invoking the biblical
passage, there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven