Growing Up Without the One Who Delivered You Jane Fonda and Others Recall Mom in ‘(Dead Mothers) Club’.

The (Dead Mothers) Club, on HBO Monday, was partly produced by Rosie O’Donnell (far left, as a child, with her own mother). 
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Mother’s Day weekend can’t be easy for people who lost their mothers at a young age. Many no doubt just lie low, keep quiet and wait for it to be over. But the documentary “The (Dead Mothers) Club,” Monday night on HBO, gives voice to at least a few such people, and their stories will surely resonate with many others.

In the film, by Carlye Rubin and Katie Green, the club in question is for women only, though men whose mothers died when they were young would also make for a compelling documentary. Three celebrities who have spoken or written about their loss — Jane Fonda, Rosie O’Donnell and Molly Shannon — reflect on their mothers, but the filmmakers give much of the focus to three women (identified by first name only) who are not household names.

These stories of the famous and not-so-famous make you realize that this is a club with many subgroups. Women whose mothers died in an accident, like Ms. Shannon’s, have different demons to wrestle with than those whose mothers committed suicide, like Ms. Fonda’s. And the discovery of the breast cancer gene has added a whole new level of stress for women whose mothers died of that illness. The film follows one, Leticia, as she decides to be tested for the gene.

Ms. O’Donnell, an executive producer of the film, also lost her mother to breast cancer.

“My mom died at 39,” she says. “Every year that I live past that feels like a bonus round on a video game. I go to get my mammogram, and they say, ‘Oh, you’re fine.’ I’m like: ‘Are you sure? I’m fine? Do you want to do it again? Did you look at every angle?’ ”

And she goes on to draw an elegant lesson from the heart attack she suffered in 2012, one of a number of quiet insights this small but striking film offers.

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