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The Good Mothers Review: Women, ‘Ndrangheta and Freedom

Let’s find out together, in this dedicated review, what are the strengths of The Good Mothers, a TV series available on Disney Plus that has decided to represent the fight against the ‘Ndrangheta from a new point of view: that of women

ORIGINAL TITLE: The Good Mothers. TYPE: drama, detective story. NATION: Italy, United Kingdom. REGIA: Julian Jarrold, Elisa Amoruso. CAST: Gaia Girace, Valentina Bellè, Barbara Chichiarelli, Francesco Colella, Simona Distefano, Andrea Dodero, Micaela Ramazzotti, Monica Guerritore. DURATION: 6 episodes of about 60 minutes. DISTRIBUTOR: Star, Disney Plus. STREAM OUT: 05/04/2023.

The fight against the mafia must first and foremost be a cultural movement that gets everyone used to smelling the beauty of the fresh scent of freedom that opposes the stink of moral compromise, indifference, contiguity and therefore complicity.

Paolo Borsellino

Recently landed on Disney Plus in all the episodes of which it is composed, The Good Mothers is an (almost) entirely Italian production that hit the Berlin Film Festival, winning the award for best TV series, arrived on April 5th to flesh out the already vast catalog of the Disney-branded streaming platform. We took our time to savor it, digest it and assimilate it and, we admit it, even after several years of experience in the field it was not easy. It’s still not easy to write a review of The Good Mothers, but we want to try.

A review as difficult as the series – here is The Good Mothers

The series, written by Stephen Butchard and directed by Julian Jarrold together with Elisa Amoruso, narrates the life and fight against the ‘Ndrangheta from a completely new point of view: the female one. The women of the Calabrian mafia, those who live it or who have tried to get away or who, finally, are too young to know it, but who still find themselves mixed up in it. Those women that history has sadly consigned to our memory: Lea Garofalo and Maria Concetta Cacciola are two of the most famous victims of the ‘Ndrangheta, who tried to do the right thing. And with these words we don’t mean so much bringing criminals to justice, no. The right thing, from the point of view of The Good Mothers, is to be free.

The Good Mothers Review: Women, 'Ndrangheta and Freedom

Donne | Review The Good Mothers

Leah Garofalo (Micaela Ramazzotti) is a young woman married to Carlo Cosco (Francis Colella), Calabrian mafia boss of some influence. The two have generated, some time ago, the little Denise (Gaia Girace) who, since she can remember, has always lived on the run with her mother, guilty of having become a witness of justice. A difficult decision, obviously. for a woman who has severed all ties with her original family and that of her husband and that she found herself completely alone fleeing from one safe house to another. A painful decision, yes, but necessary to be able to give Denise a glimpse of a different and concrete future.

Josephine Fish (Valentina Belle) is instead another woman who experiences the ‘Ndrangheta from another point of view: that of the criminal life. Wife and daughter of mafia bosses, “Giusy” is closely linked to her clan, as she is one of those responsible for extortion and money laundering. Finally, Maria Concetta Cacciola (Simona Distefano), the real prisoner of history. Prisoner of a family that times her every move, that controls her every step outside that house which is nothing but a prison for her and for her children.

The Good Mothers Review: Women, 'Ndrangheta and Freedom

Freedom | The Good Mothers Review

The narration tends to stop mainly on these four different women, all united by a single, great dream: that of freedom. Lea Garofalo’s dream is abruptly interrupted already in the first minutes of The Good Mothers, when she mysteriously disappears from the scene to leave Denise with her father Carlo, an intrusive and tendentially violent criminal (who still tries to establish a relationship with his daughter). Freedom, for Denise Cosco, is the future. Denise’s journey is intricate and decidedly difficult for a young woman who suddenly found herself without the only reference figure who accompanied her throughout her life. This does not mean that Denise is dominated, on the contrary: without wanting to go too far into her story, to avoid spoilers, the young woman immediately proves to be full of courage. A courage that, undoubtedly, she got from her mother.

The Good Mothers Review: Women, 'Ndrangheta and Freedom

Freedom, for Giuseppina Pesce, is represented by her children. Every step she takes, every crime she commits, every time she lowers her head in a purely male and chauvinist world, even though she knows she has greater abilities than many other men in her family, every time Giusy does it for her children. To give them a way to continue living in a difficult world, sure, but it’s still the only world they’ve ever known. And her children, for Giuseppina, will be the lifeline in every tragic moment that will see her protagonist in The Good Mothers.

In the end, freedom for Maria Concetta Garofalo is… freedom. Freedom to be able to say and do what you want, meet whoever you want, love and be loved. A freedom that is prevented by her parents, her husband and anyone around her. Even “Cetta” lives for her children, that’s for sure, but she has a completely different perspective from Giusy’s. Concetta tries in every way to regain possession of herself, of her dignity and of being a woman. And history teaches us, unfortunately, that her journey, together with Lea’s, was not successful.

The Good Mothers Review: Women, 'Ndrangheta and Freedom

Justice | The Good Mothers Review

In front of these four women stands another: Anna Colace (Barbara Chichiarelli). The woman is the young magistrate who, after doing his research and figuring out where to stand, decides to move the secular perspective of the fight against the ‘Ndrangheta, going to focus on them: the Women. And it is precisely these figures that will lead Anna Colace and the whole Italian justice machine to enter that world, unhinge its doors and destroy its foundations. It is the Women who have a completely different perspective on that criminal and savage world because, precisely as Women, they are subjugated, beaten, degraded every day. And it is precisely here that Anna Colace fits in: in that deep sense of dissatisfaction and eternal malaise.

The Good Mothers Review: Women, 'Ndrangheta and Freedom

Technical and acting expertise | The Good Mothers Review

The Good Mothers stands qualitatively speaking on very high standards. All the main actresses, but also the actors it must be admitted, have been able to transpose their role in front of the camera in a masterly way. Among all, we want to particularly praise Valentina Bellè who she created a true, authentic Giuseppina Pesce through dialogues, looks and a truly convincing posture. In the same way, the very young Gaia Girace has recreated a strong, tough Denise Cosco who is firmly convinced that she does not want to belong to that world that her mother so despised.

To top it all off, the excellent direction of Julian Jarrold and Elisa Amoruso has managed, in the six episodes that make up The Good Mothers, to underline even more the central role of the protagonists. The creation of a gray, heavy atmosphere that fully reflects the sense of heaviness that these young women must have felt in reality. The tone is always serious and dramatic and there is no room for levity. Too bad for the excessive brevity of the series, which takes the form of only six episodes. In short, The Good Mothers has managed to combine the technical expertise of two excellent directors with the mastery of a truly spot-on and poignant cast to tell a story that is certainly not original, but from a completely different point of view. History will not stop narrating the exploits of women like Lea, Giusy, Cetta and Denise, because it is only thanks to them and others like them that the great wall of silence, hypocrisy and violence can be torn down. One small shot at a time.

The Good Mothers Review: Women, 'Ndrangheta and Freedom

One small step

To conclude the review, we want to go back to underlining how much The Good Mothers has been, in our eyes, a message: of hope, pride, freedom or any other form of redemption one can seek. Lea Garofalo, Giuseppina Pesce, Denise Cosco, Maria Concetta Garofalo: of these women, only two managed to find their freedom, despite all the courage they had in facing a hostile, uncivilized and brutal world. We recommend watching the series to everyone, both to those who are accustomed to similar stories and to those who have not yet had the opportunity to set foot on them. You will certainly be touched by it, and perhaps even vertically changed.

The Good Mothers is currently available on Disney Plus. Let us know what you think of the series in the comments below stay tuned with us at for all the news on cinema and TV series!

Plus points

  • Outstanding cast and acting
  • A new point of view
  • Deep, raw and direct

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