Mother by Dawn Johnston | Script Revolution


An estranged daughter’s last attempt at reconciliation falls apart when her difficult, dying mother demands she do something she’s long fantasized — kill her.



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MOTHER is a drama which reveals scrappy family relationships with dark humor, in a story about reconnecting and letting go.

MJ is a wannabe blues singer, lost in life but too stubborn to acknowledge it. She waitresses while waiting for her big break. Though she hasn't seen her mother, Blue, for years, when MJ finds out Blue has cancer, the painful, incurable, terminal kind, she finally goes home.

Blue gave up a successful singing career to raise her family, something she still holds over her and her two siblings, Amy and Levi. Acerbic, needy and childish, Blue bluntly tells it like it is, consequences be damned. The woman has a lot to answer for and MJ knows it's her last chance to break free.

They're at it again almost the second MJ steps through the door. But MJ is thrilled to see her father Charlie, a kind man who maintains a positive, almost deluded, outlook even in the face of Blue's terminal illness.

Blue collapses and is taken to hospital where she admits to MJ she can't bear the thought of ending up on life-support, peeing into a bag, her dignity gone. She wants MJ to help to end her life. She's the only one who can do it. Amy can't even kill a spider. Levi and Charlie are too weak. And none of them know what Blue has asked her to do.

A darker part of MJ would relish helping her mother leave the earth, while a tender part wants to ease her mother's pain. Unsure what to do, she’s desperate for her mother to acknowledge her mistakes and apologize to her. Blue responds with contempt. Apologize for raising her? MJ explodes. She takes the pills Blue's been hoarding and flushes them down the toilet.

Desperate to manipulate MJ, Blue drops the bombshell that there never was a singing career. She made it all up. The domineering shadow that MJ felt all these years was all a lie. Devastated, MJ returns Blue's pills, which she had only pretended to flush. She doesn't care anymore.

MJ spirals downward in a self-destructive bender. But in the morning she feels pathetic, and an old friend helps her see that she's more like her mother than she ever understood. She chooses to forgive. Returning home, she finds her mother motionless, but alive, with half-digested pills on her pillow. The very thing Blue was trying to avoid.

At the hospital, MJ has the talk with Blue they should have had. It's easier with Blue in a coma. And MJ finally, truly forgives her. She secures the door and says "I'm doing this for you."

The family gathers at Blue's wake and, for now, everyone is connected.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

This script received a "Recommend" from Barb Doyen's Extreme Screenwriting.

Submitted: March 22, 2022
Last Updated: April 4, 2022

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Dawn Johnston's picture

The Writer: Dawn Johnston

I'm a Canadian screenwriter who specializes in drama, dramedy and elevated sci-fi exploring contemporary themes. My short script GOODBYE TODAY was produced and another short, LET’S TALK ABOUT KANT, (found on Script Revolution) is currently in post-production in the UK with director Michael Das. My feature script MOTHER was a Nicholl Fellowship quarter-finalist and I am developing a modern adaptation of a classic book with director/producer Barnet Bain (WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, MILTON'S SECRET). My most recent script is the sci-fi dramatic thriller THE JANUS. I'm repped by John Ferraro. Check out my website for more info. I also welcome feedback on my scripts. Feel free to DM. Thanks! Go to bio
Manager: John Ferraro

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