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The Good Mothers Review 2023 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Italian crime drama tends to follow the lead of real-life Mafias and place men front and centre. There’s none of that in The Good Mothers (Disney+), which portrays the lives of women trapped in the male-dominated hell that is the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta.
Its six compelling episodes, based on the real stories of four women who found the courage to testify against their families, are a welcome corrective to the genre’s norms. The men are unreconstructed villains who control, imprison and beat their wives and daughters. Doubtless they’re good fun to play – Francesco Colella chills the blood as the head of the Cosco clan. But they are the supporting players.
The women are the story’s complex, conflicted, resourceful and sometimes tragic heroines. The teenage Denise Cosco (Gaia Girace) is dragged back to a tiny village after her mother Lea Garofalo (Micaela Ramazzotti), emerging from witness protection, disappears. Giusy Pesce (Valentina Bellè) and Cetta Cacciola (Simona Distefano) are young mothers pressured into stifling, loveless marriages.
The other heroine is the prosecuting magistrate who chose to undermine the ‘Ndrangheta through its vulnerable underbelly: its brutalised women, including those who acted as mules when their husbands were in prison. Semi-fictionalised for legal reasons, she is here renamed Anna Colace and embodied with mesmerising intensity by Barbara Chichiarelli. Not all women are angels, mind. For every good mother there’s a grim grandmother and a hatchet-faced aunt in thrall to the patriarchy.
The Good Mothers has a surprisingly British imprint. Adapted by Stephen Butchard from Alex Perry’s 2018 book, its producers include the company that made Sherwood and one of its two directors is Julian Jarrold, who has shot four episodes of The Crown.
It doesn’t show, or matter. This feels authentically Calabrian, from the enclosing hills and suffocating communities to the percussive pronunciation of “famiglia”. Even the haunting nursery ditty that is the theme tune gives you the shivers: “Little lamb of mine,” it gently asks, “what did you do when you found yourself in the mouth of the wolf?” One imagines that the tourist board may not be rushing to bung the trailer up on its promotional website.
How the lives of these women played out for real can be discovered with a click. It’s worth resisting temptation, because the superbly weighted script trades in cliffhangers. So deeply do you root for them to resist the nasty pantomime guilt-tripping of their families that it becomes almost unbearable to watch. But do, because this masterly telling offers the women who defied the ‘Ndrangheta something denied by the criminal phallocracy they were born into: honour.