Meryl Streep and mother’s guilt go hand in hand onscreen, from Kramver vs Kramer to Only Murders in the Building S3


Irony died a thousand deaths when Meryl Streep was cast as a late blooming actor in Season 3 of the hit crime comedy show Only Murders in the Building. How infectiously Meryl jumped with joy at her belated casting as a nanny in a Broadway production only shows how she’s a three-time Academy Award winner with a career spanning almost 50 years.

Meryl Streep plays a late-blooming theatre activist in Only Murders in the Building Season 3
Meryl Streep plays a late-blooming theatre activist in Only Murders in the Building Season 3

(Also Read: Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway reunite 17 years after The Devil Wears Prada, fans want to see them in sequel)

Meryl Streep as a mother

But throughout her career, Meryl has maintained that she’s a hands-on mom. In fact, she has said that motherhood reduced her life to essentials. “I need to know there is a reason to take time out from the very intricate and exhausting and deeply interesting job of being with my kids and with my husband. To take four months and do a movie, it has to be worth it,” Meryl said to Washington Post in 1998.

Her characters, however, would disagree. Sample her latest role of Loretta Durkin, a 70+-year-old struggling actor who gave up on her newborn boy at the start of her career because she wanted to give acting a shot. All these years later, while she still hasn’t made it as an actor either on stage or in Hollywood, her mother’s guilt has only compounded.

The mother who fled

Compare Loretta to her first Oscar-winning performance as Jonna in Robert Benton’s 1979 film Kramver vs Kramer. In that film too, her character abandons her boy with his father Ted (Dustin Hoffman), but one never knows where she went, what she was upto while she was gone. She only returns 15 months later to claim the custody of their son. Was it a failed career attempt like Loretta that compelled her to return? Or was it the mother’s guilt fuelled by the distance from her boy that made her come closer to her maternal instinct? It’s only the disillusionment in Meryl’s eyes when she leaves, and the desperation in her demeanour when she strikes back, that tell us her story.

Sophie’s Choice

Meryl gave birth to her first child, singer-songwriter Henry Wolfe, the same year Kramer vs Kramer released. Winning her first Oscar next year, the actor had announced her arrival, which gave Meryl the security to choose between acting and motherhood more wisely. But for Loretta to choose between her newborn baby and her fledgling acting career must’ve been like her character in Alan J. Pakula’s 1982 psychological drama Sophie’s Choice.

In that period drama, Meryl had to choose who gets to live between her two children as the other is executed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. And if she doesn’t make the choice, both her children meet that fate. It’s a nightmare for any mother, and Meryl’s steely resolve and heartbreaking vulnerability got her a second Oscar. Interestingly, Meryl’s second child, actor Mamie Gummer, was born the same year.

The mother who fell in love

Meryl has done it all – loved outside of marriage, birthed out of wedlock, and slept with the broken half of her marriage, through her filmography. After her Francesca Johnson, a World War II Italian bride, has a torrid affair with National Geographic photojournalist Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) when her husband and children are away, in Clint’s 1995 film The Bridges of Madison County, she can’t help but not abandon her children. But years later, when she leaves them with letters of her struggles and loneliness, the children learn from the mother’s experiences and work through their struggling marriages to focus on their individual lives.

Her children in Nancy Meyer’s 2009 rom-com It’s Complicated aren’t as understanding. They can’t wrap their heads around the suspected rekindled romance between their separated parents, Jane Adler (Meryl) and Jake Adler (Alec Baldwin). But Meryl doesn’t stick to the soulmate narrative here at the cost of her children’s sanity, as she eventually bounces back from the residual feelings towards her ex-husband and looks to find fresh love in Adam Schaffer (Steve Martin).

In Phyllida Loyd’s 2008 musical Mamma Mia!, things take a far quirkier turn as Donna’s (Meryl) daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) wants to trace her father before her wedding. So she invites the three men who Donna slept with before Sophie’s conception to her wedding. Meryl, who is in full-on mothering mode here, isn’t too pleased to see her ex-boyfriends. But how she flirts with the lost young girl in her, only to rightfully give her daughter away at the wedding herself, shows how gracefully Meryl married the mother and the woman within every time.

The working mother

In the sequel, Ol Parker’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2008), we learn Donna’s past and how her own mother Ruby (Cher), a musician, was never there for her as she was constantly touring. Meryl was exactly that mother in Jonathan Demme’s 2015 musical Ricki and the Flash. She was Ricki Rendazzo, a name she took on as a rockstar after abandoning her family. A suicide attempt by her daughter gets her back home, only to get some ‘how-to-be-a-mom’ hard truths from her children’s stepmother. Her mother’s guilt persuades her to attend her son’s wedding against all odds, yet she still feels alienated in that domestic world.

“I never made any choices, I just got pregnant a lot. And when I was done weaning a baby, I’d start reading scripts,” Meryl had said in the Washington Post interview. But when on screen, Meryl had different priorities. As UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida’s Oscar-winning 2011 film The Iron Lady, her character had a home in shambles. Her obsession with the profession took a toll on her family life, just like in David Frankel’s 2006 cult classic The Devil Wears Prada. A disintegrating marriage and the growing risk of being a single mother made her vulnerable character of Miranda Priestly boss around like an authoritarian at her office of a leading fashion magazine.

Mother’s guilt passed on

Meryl’s bravest mom roles, however, were the ones where she played an irredeemable mother. In John Well’s 2013 tragicomedy August: Osage County, her dying matriarch Violet Westin really behaved like a mother who had nothing to lose. A drug addict, she wouldn’t spare even her own children some harsh truth bombs even days after their father’s death. She only passed on her mother’s guilt to her children, to the extent that her elder daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) had to physically assault her. When she’s abandoned by everyone, she doesn’t fade into oblivion like a frail, old lady reflecting on the life she had, but as a lonely, desperate woman who drives around in a frenzy to find all the people she pushed away.

In her last memorable stint as a mother, in Andrea Arnold’s Big Little Lies Season 2, she played the sumptuously twisted mother of a dead son Perry (Alexander Skasgard), who wants to get to the bottom of his mysterious death, even if it involves contesting her daughter-in-law Celeste (Nicole Kidman), alienating her grandsons from their mother, and denying a rape survivor in Jane (Shailene Woodley). “Is my grief too loud for you?,” she asks Celeste after screaming at the top of her lungs. But like the rest of her career, the season finale ties her actions back to the mother’s guilt. She passed on the guilt of the elder son’s accidental death to the younger one, scarring him for the rest of his life.

Whether Meryl the mother screams, rebels, succumbs or recedes into quietness, her guilt will never be too loud for us.

Entertainment! Entertainment! Entertainment! ????️???????? Click to follow our Whatsapp Channel ???? Your daily dose of gossip, films, shows, celebrities updates all in one place.

Stay connected with us on social media platform for instant update click here to join our  Twitter, & Facebook

We are now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TechiUpdate) and stay updated with the latest Technology headlines.

For all the latest Hollywood News Click Here 

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.
Leave a comment