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Movie Review: ‘Night Mother

Once in a while there will come a movie, a show, or play that will shake one’s mental equilibrium and the movie, ‘Night, Mother is one of those movies. What I try to convey hopefully will be judicially fair even for the like minded and those opposed to performing one of the heinous acts one could ever do to one’s self, suicide. There are not that many movies can shake my mental equilibrium except for movies such as Seven Pounds, The Green Mile, Million Dollar Baby and this one, ‘Night. Mother.

The movie begins with Jessie Catie, organizing her belongings and preparing for her big night. Her mother, Thelma, seems oblivious to what has happened through out her daughter’s life and does not understand the pain she is going through. What is that pain? It is the pain of having epilepsy, being separated from her husband, her son is on the brink of going to prison because of poor choices, she does not have a job or can’t keep one because she can not drive since her medical condition prevents her from doing so.

At first, when Jessie tells her mother, Thelma, what she intends to do that night, to kill herself, her mother quickly dismisses the notion and her earnest desire to end her life. The movie itself, is based on a play, but the play was made into a movie, and although I have yet to see the play, the movie lends itself to the very same theme and the ultimate goal of the main character, her own death by her own hands.

When Jessie’s mother begins to discover she is serious in ending her life, Jessie’s mother goes into preservation mode in an attempt to try to keep her daughter from doing the unspeakable. What is most disturbing about the film is that the main character, Jessie, is very candid but presents an honest argument for why she wishes to end her life. She is in so much pain, that to continue to try to live is pointless. Her mother tries, as any mother would, in vein to sway her by pleading with her. For every reason her mother gave her a reason to live, Jessie gave her a reason that she should die.

The dialogue in the movie is what leaves me chilled and haunted because of both Jessie and her mother feed off of their emotions, and both through very convincing arguments to one another. However, Jessie is undeterred and determined. I can not help but notice the dialogue contains no complex ideas or allegories; the direct nature of the dialogue and the earnest drive by Jessie is what is critical for the movie’s climax.

The movies’ simplicity is what haunts me and especially of the characters. For many, this topic is very difficult to understand, especially when dealing with the emotional aspect of suicide, when the weight of life becomes so much of a burden that seeing tomorrow is just unbearable or simply pointless. For others, those in opposition to Jessie’s plan would say that she should be lucky that she is at least alive, has a home with her mother, and know that she is loved. In the same argument, Jessie should count her blessings because others have much worse, which is undoubtedly true to a point. Each one of us carries a burden, and for each of us that burden weighs differently, it would be unfair to categorize or label each one of us the same.

The movie ends as Jessie’s mother wants her nails done, as Jessie had wanted to do earlier, but Jessie’s mother refused, and suddenly with mother and Jessie struggling physically with one another, to keep Jessie from going to kill herself. Jessie finally is able to free herself of her mother, run to her room, close the door and we see Jessie’s mother pleading with Jessie to don’t do it but to no avail, we hear a gunshot, signifying that Jessie has killed herself.

I was and am deeply saddened by the movie, and I can not begin pen or write how unbalanced it has made my mental equilibrium. Each one of us in our lives has seen death, and for some it is a very difficult topic to comprehend. However selfish suicide is, I do not question the sincerity of those who are truly in pain and have no reasonable options, especially when all known options have been explored; as old saying goes, the argument is finally exhausted, we stand to our guns.

The movie presents the viewer with an awkward quandary that is implicit through the whole movie, if some one you loved, cared about dearly was in so much pain and wanted to end their life, what would you do? What would say? How far would you go to preserve their life? Is it your right to say what one should do with their life? It is not an easy set of questions to answer, and I do not expect any one to answer them now, but it is something to ponder because eventually death will come to us all, it is a matter of how, when it will come and finally the circumstances in which death will come. I fear death, because no one knows what happens afterwords, we can speculate with all our religious scriptures or scientific theories but in reality no one truly knows. The main character, Jessie, seems content that with her death there will be peace, and may be she is right, may be death is just that, peace. However, at the same time, what if she is wrong? What if she has miscalculated that peace she is trying to seek? What if the means that by which is trying to acquire death brings more pain and suffering? What if? What than? I do not question the sincerity of the mass of Jessie in why she is trying to end her life, but I do question whether she is simply being too cynical or selfish as we have grown accustomed to say to anyone has committed suicide or is contemplating the act. I simply do not know, and I would hope that I would never have to answer that question, literally.

My final thought is this, in every classroom, in every book, in every news story and in every movie, you are always presented with the perspective of those affected by suicide and a glimpse, however small, of the perspective of the person suffering and what happens afterwords you are never given a true picture of what is happening in that person’s mind. This movie gives you a good glimpse of what is happening in Jessie’s mind and how well thought out, to her ability, her plan is. It is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, but is a movie for those wishing to see a different perspective.

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