Dear Mother ending explained – can Jean-Louis restart his heart?

January 11, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Ending Explained, Film, Netflix, Streaming Service

This article contains major spoilers for Dear Mother’s ending.


Dear Mother, adapted from Sébastien Thiéry’s 2013 play The Origin of the World by director and star Laurent Lafitte, is a risky new French comedy streaming on Netflix. Deliberately playing with taboos and daring to see the funny side of sexual assault and elder abuse (trust me, there is one), the film will inevitably be divisive, though it has its share of laugh-out-loud moments and funny, committed performances. It’s also, obviously, a metaphor for a selfish man having a midlife crisis, though rather than being convinced of its own profundity, it elects to make its thematic point by being as risque and ridiculous as possible.

The premise is as follows: Jean-Louis, a narcissist in a marriage that is fizzling out, discovers one day that he’s dead. Not The Sixth Sense dead, but physically dead, as in his heart has stopped beating. And yet he continues to walk and talk. How? Why? These are the big questions Jean-Louis must answer, and his only close associates, his veterinarian friend Michel and his put-upon wife Valérie, don’t have the answers for him. But perhaps Margaux might. She’s a woo-woo holistic life coach recommended to Jean-Louis by his wife, and she has some suggestions — perhaps Jean-Louis’s predicament is rooted in his strained relationship with his elderly mother, Brigitte. And the best way for Margaux to determine this is a physical picture of Brigitte’s vagina.

Dear Mother ending explained

Dear Mother, then, becomes a slapstick quest to acquire this photograph, which involves Jean-Louis having to spend more time with his mother than he’d like, while he, Michel, and Valérie try to come up with ways to snag the picture. These include Michel posing as a gynecologist, Jean-Louis searching for pictures of some other old woman’s vagina that Valérie must get printed in order to try and trick Margaux, luring Brigitte to the house where everyone is naked for a made-up holiday called Naked Neighbor day, and Michel pretending that he has been in love with Brigitte since his childhood in order to try and seduce her. Predictably, nothing works. Brigitte is increasingly appalled by her treatment, and it seems like nothing Jean-Louis does is going to succeed.

In trying to be forceful with his mother, Jean-Louis inadvertently pushes her to reveal some harsh truths about his life, including that he was the product of a one-night-stand, not the child of the man he considers to be his father, and that Brigitte ruined one of Jean-Louis’s prior relationships by defecating on the bride’s family’s bed out of petty rebellion against the bourgeoisie. These revelations all come as surprises, but none restart Jean-Louis’s heart.

Eventually, at a loss, Jean-Louis and the others try to wrestle Brigitte into the photo opportunity, at which point she passes out, presumably dead. Michel, having taste-tested a hefty amount of horse tranquilizer, collapses on top of her. The attending paramedics can’t fathom why Brigitte’s underwear was on the floor, but they don’t ask too many questions. When Brigitte’s heart stops, though, Jean-Louis’s starts up again, and he celebrates with Valérie while his mother still lays there, presumably dead. While she’s able to be resuscitated, she has to suffer a final indignity as she’s being carried down the stairs on a stretcher — Jean-Louis races down and snaps the photo. As the credits roll, the Polaroid slowly develops… and before it reveals all, Jean-Louis picks it up, looks at it, and then surveys himself in the mirror. If you’re asking how he can stand to do that, well — that’s the point.

You can stream Dear Mother exclusively on Netflix. Do you have any thoughts on Dear Mother’s ending? Let us know in the comments.

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