How can you label a mother? After all, she has endured throughout her entire life? Sacrificing nearly everything for the sake of nurturing her children. However, in Miles Joris-Peyrafitte’s The Good Mother (2023), we witness a woman grappling with the death of her younger son. She is faced with potentially shattering her entire family at one go, yet the decisions she ultimately makes define her as a ‘good’ mother. Spoilers Ahead!

The Good Mother (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

The film opens with a man running very fast, trying to reach somewhere. Soon, a car follows him, and a gunshot is heard. Later, we are introduced to Marissa, an editor at the Times Union, who is hungover all the time and doesn’t like the taste of the coffee. Anyway, Toby, a police officer and Marissa’s older son, comes to pay her a visit at her office. He tells her about the death of Michael last night, Marissa’s younger son.

Marissa feels devastated, but she doesn’t cry much. Life has taken a toll on her in every way, and even her eyes don’t give up tears that easily. She is sad, but when she sees Michael’s girlfriend, Paige, at the funeral, she is mostly angry. Marissa even punches her in the face. However, when she comes to realize that Paige is pregnant with Michael’s kid, she ends up drinking coffee with her. Marissa believes that Paige is the reason why Michael ended up being a junkie.

Paige tells her that she and Michael are planning to buy a house soon. Marissa asks her how they could afford a house since they have no job or something. Paige tells her about Michael’s association with Ducky in some business. Marissa guesses that since Ducky is involved and he is also afflicted by addiction, this association is definitely not a straight job. She doubts that there are drugs involved in her son’s death.

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What does Marissa Find Out about Michael?

A few days later, Toby meets with Marissa, and he tells her that Ducky is involved in bringing Fentanyl to the South district. He says that maybe a deal went wrong, and as a result, Michael is shot dead. Knowing this, Marissa brings a cigarette, pretends to light it up, and smokes it. She does this to avoid her addiction to smoking. She remembers the time when she used to neglect Michael’s calls because of his addiction.

Marissa goes to an AA meeting and finds out about another mother, Laurie, who had lost her daughter because of drug addiction. Marissa wants to interview her as she finds the urge to write from within. According to the Editor-in-Chief, Marissa is the best writer in the Times Union. But, since she took up alcohol to get rid of her pain of losing Michael, she has stopped writing. But, right after Michael’s death, she feels the requirement to share her expression with the world.

This is the reason why she wants to interview Laurie. However, she brings her to a place unknown to her knowledge. There, Marissa finds out that a camp is going on for people who take drugs. It is basically a safe injection site where the doctors take samples of the drugs to let people with substance abuse disorders know whether it is okay to have them or not.

There, Marissa spots Ducky and runs after him. They end up in a railyard where Ducky hits Marissa with an iron rod as he is very much frightened about the whole situation. Later, when Marissa gains consciousness, she confronts Ducky regarding Michael’s murder. Ducky tells her that someone called him, telling Michael to go to a safe zone as his life is under great threat.

So, he asked Michael to come to his home. But by the time he could do anything, a man with a tattoo on his hand came in a white van and shot Michael dead. Marissa comes back to Toby and tells him about Ducky. Toby leaves the house in search of him as he thinks that Ducky is accumulating some stories just to hide the fact that he is responsible for Michael’s death. However, Marissa thinks that Ducky is perhaps telling the truth as Paige confirms to her that Ducky can never be involved in Michael’s murder.

What does Paige find out about Toby?

The Good Mother (2023) Movie Ending Explained
A still from The Good Mother (2023)

While all of this is happening, Paige creates a community on her social media, and one person reaches out to her, telling her he knows about Michael’s death. Paige goes to visit him along with Marissa. Paige continues her investigation as she is threatened for possessing two MM-printed packages of Fentanyl drugs. Even people are sent to take it away from her, and she has been living with Marissa since that time.

She gives away one packet to Marissa, which ends up in Toby’s hands. Toby’s actions are never suspicious until a certain incident happens to Paige. Right after the incident between Ducky and Marissa, Paige goes to the place where Ducky lives. She finds out that Ducky has already died by suicide. She searches for him and goes through his phone only to find a number that tells Ducky to bring Michael to his place on the night he was killed.

Paige goes to Toby to let him know about this. Toby asks her to wait while he calls for help. Paige dials the number she finds on Ducky’s phone and calls it. Suddenly, she hears a vibration in the house. She starts looking for it, which leads to the basement of Toby’s house. There, she finds the phone, and Ducky’s number is saved in it. Paige doesn’t know what to do except that she must leave Toby’s house.

She tries to, but Toby unwillingly pushes her from the stairs. Later, when Toby’s wife, Gina, comes home, he tells her to call an ambulance as Paige has fallen in the bathroom. Toby tells Marissa that Paige must have been taking the drugs, which resulted in the fall. Unbeknownst to her, Toby himself injects drugs into her veins right after the incident.

The Good Mother (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

What does Marissa do when She Learns about Toby’s Truth?

Paige dies, leaving behind the child for Marissa to take care of. At this point, Marissa has no one to call family apart from Toby, his wife Gina, and Paige’s child. She leaves drinking for the sake of the child. She is unaware of Michael’s killer and doesn’t care much about that now. Marissa has a new responsibility, and she starts dealing with it.

One day, Gina comes to her and shows her a chain that belongs to Paige. She accidentally found it on the stairs of the basement. Together, they understand that Toby has something to do with it, as he has never mentioned the basement after Paige’s death. Gina doesn’t know what to do with it. So she comes to Marissa with the truth, seeking justice for whatever wrong has taken place. Marissa is also confused and is still trying to process everything that is happening.

One day, Marissa finds a bag that Paige has kept from her on the night she first comes to her house. In the bag, she finds the second packet of the drug and calls Toby to take it. Toby takes the bag and leaves the house. Marissa follows him to the very end, only to find out his older son is dealing with the man with the tattoo on his hand—the man who is responsible for Michael’s murder.

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Marissa sits beside Toby on the train where the deal is being made right after the tattooed man leaves. She understands that Toby, Michael, and Ducky were all involved in the drug racket. Perhaps they all double-crossed the tattooed man. Toby is left with no option but to deliver the drugs back to him. Maybe Michael and Ducky didn’t want to return it. Hence, from that point onwards, whatever Toby starts doing is based on miscalculation and fear. There is a chance that the tattooed man threatens Toby to bring Michael to that exact location on that night via Ducky. Marissa understands the whole scenario and doesn’t express her feelings after hearing all this.

She visits a local pub the following day. Finally, she starts writing about how her two sons, Toby and Michael, grow up to be young men. She writes about how Michael has an exceptional baseball talent and ends up being a person with substance abuse disorder right after his shoulder injury. She writes all the truth until the very end when she finds out about Toby’s involvement in the racket. Then she gives it to her Editor at the Times Union, Jim.

Jim appreciates her writing. But he gives her time to rethink whether she wants it published. At the end of the film, we see Toby come to take away Paige’s kid along with Gina. They often visit her to take away Michael and Paige’s kids to spend some fun time together. Seeing Toby taking up responsibilities and being happy about it triggers some thoughts in Marissa. She thinks that if the world comes to know the truth about Toby, what will happen to Gina? Or even to Paige’s kid, who will only have Toby in the whole family to see as a father figure?

What good will come out from the truth, thinks the good mother within Marissa. A mother who values the importance of the family and the importance of a father. She always thinks that if Michael and Toby had a father while growing up, things would have been different. Marissa lost her husband long ago, and now she doesn’t want to put Gina in the same condition.

Subsequently, Marissa looks for a lighter and looks hard for it as it is a necessity she had forgotten long ago. Finally, she finds the lighter. She lights up a cigarette, and the screen goes black. However, it is not shown whether Marissa burns the writing or not. However, the way it is presented on the screen, it seems like she has burnt it. Her selfishness kept her away from writing, and now, one way or another, her sons helped her to write again. Everything goes wrong with Marissa until the very end, when a good writer finally starts writing again.

Read More: The Good Mother: Release Date, Cast, Plot, Where To Watch, Trailer & Other Details


The Good Mother (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of The Good Mother (2023) Movie Cast: Hilary Swank, Olivia Cooke, Jack Reynor, Hopper Penn
The Good Mother (2023) Movie Genre: Mystery & thriller/Crime, Runtime: 1h 29m

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