“Earth Mama,” lacking notable male characters, presents a different take on someone who is pregnant, experienced trauma, and is trying to move forward despite a slew of personal and external obstacles in her path.


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General Information

Director(s) Savanah Leaf
Screenplay By Savanah Leaf
Based On The Heart Still Hums
Date Released (In Theaters) July 13, 2023
Genre(s) Drama, Young Adult
Film Length 1 Hour 37 Minutes
Content Rating Rated R
Noted Characters and Cast
Trina Doechii
Carmen Erika Alexander
Gia Tia Nomore
Mel Keta Price

What Is “Earth Mama” Rated And Why?

“Earth Mama” is Rated R because:

  • Dialog: cursing throughout
  • Violence: nothing beyond one shoving match
  • Sexual Content: Gia is seen nude, but more in an artsy than sexual way
  • Miscellaneous: drug use, depiction of drugs, smoking, drinking

Film Summary

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links. If a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

Gia is nearly 37 weeks with her third child and a year separated from her older two kids being taken from her and put into protective custody. She has a job and stays with her sister but does struggle. However, she is doing the classes, going to meetings, and doing everything she can to get her kids back and end the generational trauma many of the women in these classes, like her, have experienced.

However, with no parents and her sister not providing much beyond a roof over her head, Gia is without a stable village. She does have her friend Trina, but Trina’s religious beliefs complicate her relationship with Gia. There is also a Mel, who often hangs out outside Gia’s apartment, but Mel has her own stuff going out with her mom recently dying.

Lastly, there is Ms. Carmen. She is nice, but with Gia unsure if she is trying to help her or sell her baby to someone, their relationship lacks a secure trust when Gia needs a stable adult’s guidance more than ever.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Gia

Gia (Tia Nomore)
“Gia (Tia Nomore),” Earth Mama, directed by Savanah Leaf, 2023, (A24)

Gia is a mother of two with a drug problem and lacks a support system, but she has a job at a photo shop and is doing better than before. It’s just she knows things are stacked against her, and it is hard sometimes to know who to trust.

Trina

Trina is the closest thing to a best friend Gia has, but there are trust issues between them. Trina worries about Gia’s judgement over who she has an interest in, and Gia, because Trina relies on her faith since she can’t rely on herself, makes herself inadvertently as judgemental as she fears Gia will be towards her.

Carmen

Carmen (Erika Alexander)
“Carmen (Erika Alexander),” Earth Mama, directed by Savanah Leaf, 2023, (A24)

Carmen runs a class approved by the state to help mothers show they are capable and willing to get their kids back. But she also helps play the middle person if parents choose to give up their kids for adoption.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Run The World” and their role in “Living Single.”

Mel

Mel is Gia’s friend from the neighborhood who has been away caring for her mother but is now back when Gia could use another friend.

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)Recommended

Notable Performances or Moments

Men Play A Minimal Role

To much surprise, men aren’t a factor in anyone’s story. We see them exist, but outside of the man who, with his wife and daughter, would like to welcome Gia’s daughter into their family, not one is prominently featured.

This creates a wonderful and complex dynamic between characters because there is no scapegoat. There isn’t a bad father, whether you are talking about Gia’s dad or the father of her kids. It’s all about holding yourself accountable.

I’d also add that no men play the role of the hero or someone not like other men in the form of a nice guy who is boyfriend material. Women are both the help and the potential adversaries and without the power dynamic and sometimes trauma men can bring, it allows for different relationships to be explored, especially since the women exist outside a dichotomy of either being a monster in the darkness or the light at the end of the tunnel.

No Villains, Just Obstacles And Different Perspectives

With that said, it is clear no one is a villain. Gia isn’t bad for being an addict who, even while pregnant, is around drugs and tempted to use. Trina isn’t bad for leaning on religion to give her hope and a sense of protection. Never mind thinking that Gia should raise her own kids based on her beliefs.

Trina (Doechii) and Gia (Tia Nomore)
“Trina (Doechii) and Gia (Tia Nomore),” Earth Mama, directed by Savanah Leaf, 2023, (A24)

Is it sometimes insensitive? Yes. However, beyond religion, Trina also considers how letting someone else raise your kids wipes away their identity and culture, and you get it. She isn’t there to damn her but does have and present a different perspective.

Even Carmen, who often talks to Gia in hushed, managed tones, isn’t perfect. She can be harsh when Gia stumbles and Trina makes it seem she has mixed appeal. Now, could it be those two just don’t see eye to eye since Carmen is known to advocate for having ladies give up their children for adoption? Maybe. But it could be beyond that.

Second-Hand Guilt And Anxiety

For many films and TV shows, the goal can often be that they want to hook you quickly with characters and then move on. The way “Earth Mama” is built doesn’t and can’t do that. Gia’s life is core to the film’s success, and you having a connection to her, understanding her, and empathizing with the difficult decision she is tasked with.

But what I didn’t expect as a viewer was to understand and connect with her and take on some of her guilt and anxiety. With being torn between giving up her third child, so she can be a good parent to the two she has, mixed with the guilt of giving up a kid who she should be responsible for, you feel immensely what she is going through. Especially as she looks upon the would-be adopted parents who have so much to offer while she can barely take care of herself. Yet, knowing all that could happen, from abuse to neglect, there is this anxiety about what may happen, and she wouldn’t even know.

The feeling can be intense, even if you aren’t a parent in any capacity, and it really forces you to think about the sacrifices beyond the time, money, and effort you make into raising a child, but what beyond your own actions is required for a child to live a happy and productive life.

On The Fence

There Can Be Times You Want To Know More

What could frustrate some regarding “Earth Mama” is that it rarely, if ever, answers the how and who. As noted, it doesn’t bring up the father of Gia’s children, show him, or explain what happened to lead to Gia being single. It’s established that she has trust issues, but as for whether it was due to being cheated on, abandoned, or maybe thinking they were dating when he just wanted to have sex? Or maybe he said he was using a condom, but “It was feeling too good?” You just don’t know.

Gia (Tia Nomore) and Mel (Keta Price)
“Gia (Tia Nomore) and Mel (Keta Price),” Earth Mama, directed by Savanah Leaf, 2023, (A24)

Even beyond the father of Gia’s kids, there is the question of what led her to pick up a habit? Does her sister have a role to play? What led to her sister potentially becoming a drug dealer and a slew of other questions that aren’t answered for you are dropped into Gia’s life, and, as would happen in reality, Gia isn’t going to slide in a recap of all that happened with someone like Mel, Trina or Carmen when they already know her story. If not the low points she would rather not talk about.

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Precious: Precious is definitely more dramatic than “Earth Mama,” but give a similar sense of a young woman struggling with trauma, trust, and creating a better life for herself and her children.

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

Title Card - Earth Mama (2023)
Earth Mama (2023) – Movie Review and Summary
Overall
While “Earth Mama” may leave you wondering about Gia’s backstory and many of the characters in general, the way it moves forward makes it so, like for many, the past is the past, and while it has an influence over the trajectory of someone’s life, it can’t be made an excuse. As shown by Gia, you have to hold yourself accountable, own the work you have done and the slip-ups because that person has been removed from your life, and the only way they can have power over you is if you continue to let them, in person or via the voice in your head.
Men Play A Minimal Role
89
No Villains, Just Obstacles And Different Perspectives
90
Second Hand Guilt And Anxiety
88
There Can Be Times You Want To Know More
78
Highlights
Second Hand Guilt And Anxiety
No Villains, Just Obstacles And Different Perspectives
Men Play A Minimal Role
Disputable
There Can Be Times You Want To Know More
86

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