Motherhood (2009 film)


Promotional poster
Directed by Katherine Dieckmann
Produced by Christine Vachon
Pamela Koffler
Jana Edelbaum
Rachel Cohen
Written by Katherine Dieckmann
Starring Uma Thurman
Minnie Driver
Anthony Edwards
Music by Joe Henry
Cinematography Nancy Schreiber
Edited by Michael R. Miller
iDeal Partners Film Fund
Distributed by Freestyle Releasing
Release dates
  • October 23, 2009 (2009-10-23) (United States limited)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[1][2]
Box office $726,354[3]

Motherhood is a 2009 independent comedy-drama film written and directed by Katherine Dieckmann and starring Uma Thurman.


In New York's West Village, a mother's (Uma Thurman) dilemmas of marriage, work, and self are shown in the trials and tribulations of one pivotal day.



Motherhood and Arlen Faber (later renamed The Answer Man) were a pair of films independently financed and produced by the New York City-based iDeal Partners Film Fund.[2]

The two films were part of a coordinated effort by iDeal Partners to reduce the risk in investing in film production during the late-2000s recession; they were pre-sold to foreign distributors, cast with "commercially-tested actors" and took advantage of U.S. state tax incentives that encouraged film production.[2] Both also premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.[4] As of January 2009, Jana Edelbaum, co-founder of iDeal Partners, was predicting "at least a 15 percent return for her investors and if something big happens with Motherhood or Arlen Faber as much as 40 percent."[2]


Men can write great women’s movies, but I don’t think a man could write this movie. I don’t think any man can understand what it’s like to face the day to day the way a woman can, what it means for a woman to be compromised by domesticity.
Dieckmann, on her film Motherhood.[5]

The writer/director's "real life was the inspiration for the film";[5] Dieckmann's home consists of two rent-stabilized apartments on the same floor of a West Village building, with one apartment for the bedrooms, and the other containing a kitchen, office and living room. In the film; Thurman's character "lives in [literally the] same building, in a bisected apartment."[5] Filming took place in New York City starting in May 2008 and lasting about 25 days.[1]


Motherhood received a limited North American release in October 2009 by Freestyle Releasing.[6]

In March 2010, the film's British premiere was confined to a single London cinema: the Apollo Piccadilly Circus. The box office gross was £9 on its opening night and £88 on its opening weekend; only eleven viewers purchased a ticket, with only one person attending its first showing.[7][8] Veteran film critic Barry Norman said "It's a reasonable assumption that there was a marketing and advertising catastrophe, and people didn't know it was showing."[7]


The film received generally negative reviews; only 10 out of 39 critics sampled by Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a positive review, with the consensus "Despite Uma Thurman's comic skills, Motherhood's contrived set-ups and cliched jokes keep this comedy from delivering laughs -- or insights into modern parenting."[9] In October 2009, Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, saying the film is "billed as a comedy, but at no point will you require oxygen. There are some smiles and chuckles and a couple of actual laughs, but the overall effect is underwhelming"; Thurman is "doing her best with a role that may offer her less than any other in her career, even though she's constantly onscreen."[10] A. O. Scott said Thurman's character is "scattered, ambivalent, flaky and inconsistent all of which is fine, and energetically conveyed by Ms. Thurman. But what are tolerable quirks in a person can be deadly to a narrative, and Ms. Dieckmann, trying for observational nuance, descends into trivia and wishful thinking....The humor is soft, the dramas are small, and the movie stumbles from loose and scruffy naturalism to sitcom tidiness."[11]

The Times observed that while Motherhood was only the second-worst flop in British cinematic history; the film that beat it to that honor, the 2007 My Nikifor, which "took £7 on its launch ... was a small independent effort rather than a £3m Hollywood production [like Motherhood]."[8]

Thurman won two awards at the Boston Film Festival, one for Best Actress for her work in Motherhood[12][13] and an out-of-competition Film Excellence Award for her career accomplishments.[14]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Miller, Winter (April 16, 2008). "Thurman prepares for 'Motherhood'". Variety. Retrieved October 3, 2008.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Barnes, Brooks (January 24, 2009). "Suddenly, Hollywood Seems a Conservative Investment". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  3. Motherhood at Box Office Mojo
  4. McCarthy, Todd (December 4, 2008). "More star power at Sundance". Variety. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
  5. 1 2 3 Belkin, Lisa (October 16, 2009). "Mommy Tracks, on Screen and Off". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  6. McNary, Dave (July 9, 2009). "Freestyle sets date for 'Motherhood'". Variety. Retrieved July 16, 2009.
  7. 1 2 Hill, Amelia (March 26, 2010). "The Uma Thurman film so bad it made £88 on opening weekend". The Guardian. London. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  8. 1 2 Codling, Kit (March 28, 2010). "Uma Thurman film is mother of all flops". The Sunday Times. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  9. "Motherhood". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
  10. Ebert, Roger (October 21, 2009). "Motherhood". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  11. Scott, A.O. (October 23, 2009). "Motherhood (2009): Manhattan Mom, Burning Home Fires at Both Ends". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  12. "Awards for Motherhood". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  13. "DesdemonaNamed Best 25th Boston Film Festival" (PDF) (Press release). Boston Film Festival. September 24, 2009. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
  14. "Uma Thurman Will Receive Film Excellence Award at 2009 Boston Film Festival" (PDF) (Press release). Boston Film Festival. September 1, 2009. Retrieved 2010-11-15.

External links

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