4 Unconventional Mother-Daughter Movie Relationships

With the anticipated release of Lady Bird, a story about a precocious teenager and her turbulent relationship with her mother, I felt it was poignant to give a rundown of some of the best unconventional mother/daughter dynamics on screen.

If you’re waiting for Greta Gerwig’s epic drama about womanhood, coming of age and the bond between a mother and daughter to play out on the big screen, this list should tide you over.

Here are some of my most celebrated, and sometimes morally questionable, mothers and their divisive daughters.

Carrie (1976)

Carrie 1976 Brian De Palma

Here’s to hoping that your relationship with your mum wasn’t akin to a Brian De Palma nightmare.

Famous for constantly being at loggerheads, Carrie and her mum could never see eye-to-eye, but watching their disagreements play out is undeniably entertaining.

Telekinetic powers aside, Carrie and her mother are quite a relatable pair. If you strip away all the pigs’ blood and all of the floating butcher knives, you could argue that Carrie’s disagreements with her mother point to something in the area of the ordinary.

Daughters and mothers tend to temporarily lose their bond around adolescence and arguing with your mum is basically a hormonal rite of passage. With Carrie, the issues happen just as she visits period town.

Recommended for you: Original vs Remake: Carrie (1976) vs Carrie (2013)

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment Movie Shirley Maclaine

We have gone from scary to sad now, and if you can’t cry in front of your own mother then I feel bad for you.

Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger serve as early versions of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore in this early 80s comedy-drama-romance movie.

Watching the two outspoken and yet entirely different women work through their struggles together really pulls at the heartstrings, while highlighting the durability of mother-daughter bonds. This makes watching them work against each other humorous and, at times, difficult to watch.

While their relationship may not be controversial per se, it is not always the smoothest, and MacLaine was never going to be typecast as ‘mother of the year’.

It personally reminded me of the ups and downs my mother and I have been through – and how the argument about me running away from home was not important in five years time.

This movie is sure to make you laugh and cry, so make sure you have plenty of wine and tissues. You can really drunkenly ugly cry into each other’s shoulders – because getting drunk and crying over this film is something that will be important in five years time.

Aliens (1986)

Aliens Movie Ripley Sigourney Weaver

“Get away from her you bitch,” said my adopted mother Sigourney Weaver, to the giant alien queen.

James Cameron, infamous for his unconventional pairings, gave homage to ‘the other mother’ in his cheesy Alien sequel. Ripley’s character was originally written as a male, so this feminine addition in the franchise sees her soften out and become motherhood material.

Cameron’s side-step away from androgyny shifted the film (and arguably the franchises) focus onto women and birth. It is hardly surprising that Ripley finds herself a small girl called Newt to adopt and protect – but hey, only your Ma would don a futuristic mechanical lifting suit to administer an alien ass-whooping.

The new addition in her life gives Ripley’s character a new dimension as she ruthlessly defends Newt against the insurmountable odds, while hinting to the upcoming twist that she will carry her own alien pregnancy.

Whether they are cuddling us to sleep or fighting off facehuggers, Aliens serves as bold reminder that our mothers are a big influence on our lives.

It also has loads of fighting and guns, and jumpy bits. Much more up-tempo than Terms of Endearment, that’s for darn sure.

Recommended for you: Alien Movie Franchise Ranked

Brave (2012)

Brave Pixar Movie Merida Mom

This movie is one of the first Disney princess imaginings from the House of Mouse that puts family bond over true love and getting married.

Princess Merida’s complicated relationship with her mother is a breath of fresh air for all of the girls really fed up with the notion of true love’s kiss.

Disney finally delivered a mother figure that wasn’t a ‘wicked step-mother’, or dead – as parents in fairy tales are so seldom left alive, I found this both unconventional and pleasing.

Embracing the differences between mother and daughter led the way for a plot line and main character that girls could actually relate to, rather than just wish they were. This ticks all the boxes in my books, while celebrating the one love in my life (and my only Valentines day card sender) my Mumma.

Recommended for you: Every Pixar Movie Ranked

If you take anything away from this list, aside from feeling the need to comment and tell me I missed a movie out of my own article, then take away the fact that Lady Bird is coming out soon.

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