‘The Good Mothers’ Ending, Explained: Is It Based On A True Story? Is Lea Garofalo Dead Or Alive?


“The Good Mothers” is a heartbreaking fictional account of the journey of three women who ventured to speak out against the mafia clans. The series is based on true events and primarily focuses on what happened after the sudden disappearance of Lea Garofalo. In 2002, Lea Garofalo disclosed information about the operations of the Ndrangheta and provided details about the civil war that broke out between two Ndrangheta families. She was under witness protection during that time, but in 2006, she decided to leave the program and moved into an apartment found by her ex-partner, Carlo Cosco.

“The Good Mothers” delves into the lives of the women belonging to the mafia families. After living all their lives in a strictly feudal household, the women struggle to find their voice. From a young age, their families made all their decisions, turning them into living, breathing puppets in the hands of their masters. Expressing their opinions mostly resulted in punishments, and the suffocation often became unbearable to live with. So, what happened when three women chose to step out of their family domain and dared to envision their lives as individuals?

Spoilers Ahead

Why Did Lea And Denise Meet Carlo Cosco? What Did Carlo Want From Carmine?

After leaving the witness protection program and staying at the apartment found by Carlo, Lea realized that her life was no longer devoid of danger. Lea knew she would have to pay the price for betraying Ndrangheta, but the question was when. Her heart would skip a beat, fearing the worst whenever someone knocked at their door. She would often return home from the market in panic, fearing a sudden attack by a stranger. Her worst nightmare came true when a man masquerading as a repairman entered her apartment and attempted to kill her. Denise and Lea managed to tackle him, and they reported the ambush to the police. After the incident, Lea realized that she was not forgiven, and she continued to live in terror. Her only reason for staying in touch with Carlo was Denise. Lea’s decision to become a state witness interfered with Denise’s education; as a result, she subsequently gave Denise her undivided attention.

Lea and Denise met Carlo in Milan to discuss Denise’s education. Denise hoped for her parents to get back together, but Lea knew that it was not as simple. Even though Carlo had stated that he had forgiven Lea, she did not entirely trust him. While Denise was reunited with the rest of the Cosco family, Carlo offered to take Lea out for dinner. That was the last time Denise saw her mother. She tried to repeatedly contact her, but her mother never received her calls. Carlo wanted Denise to believe that her mother had run away, leaving her behind, but Denise knew better than that. She knew what the Cosco family was capable of, and she refused to believe a word uttered by her father. Her only adviser was Lea’s sister Marisa, who, from the get-go, knew that the Cosco family had murdered Lea.

While Denise mourned the absence of her mother, she was shocked to see how unaffected the entire family was after the incident. Denise wanted to run away, but she soon realized that it was almost impossible to do anything without her father’s knowledge. She was constantly accompanied by Carmine Venturino, her father’s right-hand man. A couple of days after Lea’s disappearance, Carlo organized an extravagant birthday party for Denise. He wanted to celebrate his success in not only bringing his daughter home but also keeping her under his control. Denise decided not to attend the party to express her frustration. The next day, her phone, which contained her mother’s pictures and voicemails, was destroyed, and she was handed a new set to solely use to receive her father’s calls. Denise realized that everything she had heard about her father was true. He always had an ulterior motive and never cared about her. 

With no one else by her side, Denise fell in love with her captor, Carmine. He helped her ease her pain with walks at the beach or pizza-making classes. But Denise was aware that Carmine was controlled by his father. Even though she could not trust his intentions completely, she gradually started to enjoy his company. Soon after Carlo was arrested in relation to the sudden disappearance of Lea Garofalo, he got to know that there was a witness willing to cooperate. Denise had escaped and contacted her mother’s lawyer. She met her and agreed to become a witness in the case. Her sudden disappearance left Carlo all the more doubtful, and he warned Carmine that Denise was quite like her mother, and she deserved to be treated the same way as her mother. Carmine had remained faithful to Carlo all this time, but he could not murder Denise. He had fallen in love with her, and even when he had the perfect opportunity to end her life, he refrained from doing so.

What Happened To Maria Concetta Cacciola?

For eight years, Maria Concetta Cacciola lived the life of a prisoner at her own home. She was married to Salvatore Figliuzzi, but he was sent to prison by her own family, and since then, she was not allowed to leave her house without permission. She was married at a young age, and by the time she was thirty, she was the mother of three children. Maria was frustrated with the lack of control she had over her life. She was not allowed to interact with anyone except her family, but Maria chose to rebel against that. She had a laptop hidden in her drawer that she would use to interact with strangers on social media.

Maria felt an immense sense of joy when her online friends appreciated her beauty. She had a secret lover whom she had never met but had taken a serious interest in. She was desperate to find a way to live her life away from her abusive family, and love gave her hope. She was left in a bloody condition when her father found out that she was active online. With bruises all over her face, she could not leave her room for days. Not only was Maria living in a terrible condition, but her children were affected as well. Her son, Alfonso, had grown up watching his mother being mistreated by the men of the family. As a teenager, he assumed that forceful behavior was expected of a man. The day Alfonso held a gun, he decided to mistreat his mother as well. Maria had always been protective of her children, but clearly, it was impossible for her to keep them away from the influence of her family. 

One day, when Maria was called to the police station after Alfonso was caught driving without a license, she decided to use the opportunity to her advantage. She informed the military police that she belonged to a mafia clan, and she was willing to disclose details about their operation, but in return, she wanted a safe place to live in. She was immediately brought under the witness protection program, and she was moved to a house away from her Rosarno home. Even though living an independent life had been her dream, she struggled to find her ground. All her life, she had people making decisions for her, and she was completely lost when she was taken out of the system. Her life with her family was miserable, but that was the life she knew, and those were the people she trusted. She missed her children, and when they started to contact her, she was ready to rethink her decision. Her parents emotionally blackmailed her and promised to reunite her with her children once she returned home. Maria wanted to trust her parents, and after they repeatedly promised to forgive her, she decided to return home. Perhaps all her life, Maria wanted her parents to understand her, and when she decided to return, she was convinced that it was for the best. The morning after her return, Maria was locked in the attic and was asked to clean it. She realized that nothing had changed, and the thought of going back to her miserable life pushed her to the edge. Maria gulped down acid, and by the time her father brought her to the hospital, she had passed away.

Why Did Giuseppina Pesce Agree To Collaborate With The Prosecutor?

Giuseppina and Maria were relatives and the best of friends. Their lives were quite similar; they both belonged to mafia clans, were married young, faced similar prejudice, and wanted more than what life had to offer. Both Giuseppina and Maria’s husbands were in prison, and they were desperately searching for love. After her husband’s imprisonment, Giuseppina worked as the trusted messenger for the Pesce’ ndrina (one of the most influential clans in Ndrangheta), and Deputy Chief Prosecutor Anna Colace had her eyes on her. Anna knew that the moment the women of the Calabrian Ndrangheta were on their side, it would be easy for them to get hold of the men. She was aware of how the women were mistreated by the macho men in their families.

The Ndrangheta women wanted to escape their situation, and if they were provided with a safe place, they could be of immense help. Giuseppina’s store was tapped, and Anna and her team listened to every conversation she had. Her lover, Enrico, worked for her clan and was responsible for keeping Giuseppina safe. Their romance was forbidden, but the quick escape from her reality kept Giuseppina alive. Enrico treated her well and loved her immensely. She would have run away with him if she could, but their situation forced them to keep it a secret. They knew that they would be heavily penalized or even murdered if the truth ever surfaced, but they were ready to risk it all for love. After gathering enough evidence and intelligence, Giuseppina was finally arrested by the police. She was with Enrico when the police entered her room, and their affair became public knowledge.

Initially, when Anna Colace offered Giuseppina to collaborate, she refused to give in. But gradually, she realized that her children were losing faith in her, and her family influenced their decision. She offered to provide information about her clan in exchange for a safe house where she could live with her children. The women of the house decided to use the children to blackmail Giuseppina into returning home. Her teenage daughter refused to speak to her properly and demanded that she go back to her family. All this time, Giuseppina believed that the moment she left her house and had her children by her side, she would find a way to start afresh, but it was not as simple as that. Her daughter, Angela, was emotionally manipulated by the Pesce family, and she became a mouthpiece for them. Giuseppina confiscated the phone Angela used to communicate with the rest of the family. But the phone kept on ringing, and she decided to have a word with her parents.

Gradually, she too started to long to go back to her family. She desperately wanted to believe that they had forgiven her and were ready to accept her and her children. Anna was aware that the moment Giuseppina left the witness protection program, her testimony would be considered invalid in court. Giuseppina’s lawyer would contest that every word she said was because she was kept under pressure. The moment she received the information that Giuseppina had traveled away from the permitted area with her boyfriend and children, Anna decided to arrest her. After her arrest, she was not allowed any visitors because Anna knew that she would again fall into the trap. After receiving countless letters from her family asking her to stay loyal to her children, she realized that her family had not changed. The next time she met Anna Colace, she promised not to back down, especially after learning what Maria had to live through.

‘The Good Mothers’ Ending Explained: Who Killed Lea Garofalo? Is It Based On True Events?

Denise learned that Carmine Venturino was responsible for the murder of Lea Garofalo following his untimely arrest. The man who pretended to be Denise’s only friend and repeatedly stated that he did not know what happened to Lea was, in fact, a part of the murder plan. Denise was left shocked and devastated. She was determined to bring justice to her mother, even if that meant speaking against her family in court. Lea had raised a courageous daughter, and it was her decision to live away from her partner and his family that helped change Denis’s outlook on life. Unlike most Ndrangheta women, Denis knew about the world outside, and she was not as emotionally attached to the family as the others. She had grown up watching her mother fight for her independence, and she was not ready to give up that fight.

The narrative of “The Good Mothers” has been inspired from the true events. Denise’s testimony was upheld in court, resulting in a historic ruling against the accused. Carlo Cosco and his brother and partner-in-crime, Vito were presented before the court, where they were sentenced to life imprisonment. They also had to spend two years in isolation. The rest were condemned to life imprisonment and had to spend a year in isolation. After disclosing the location of Lea’s remains, Carmine Venturino’s sentence was reduced to 25 years. Initially, it was believed that Lea was murdered, and her body was dissolved in acid; later, it was revealed that she was burned to death and that she was beaten with a pole while her body was burning. Eventually, Carmine helped in finding the remains of Lea Garofalo in San Fruttuoso. Denise lives under state protection in an undisclosed location and has changed her identity for her own protection. Meanwhile, Giuseppina and her children continue to live under witness protection. Maria’s family was arrested for harassment after her death, but eventually, they were accused of murder after bruises were found on Maria’s body. They were convicted for the abuse suffered by Maria with no chance of parole. 

The stories of Lea, Denise, Giuseppina, and Maria speak of courage. They all loved their families, but they eventually realized that they must leave for their own well-being. Their lives were a constant negotiation, and even as individuals who knew nothing beyond their tainted world, they chose to blindly jump into the unknown. After being abused by their fathers and husbands all their lives, the women decided it was time to break free from the shackles. Women play an important role in the Ndrangheta; they take care of the children and influence them to adapt to the lifestyle, but the lack of respect from the men resulted in their decision to leave, which ultimately affected the entire family structure. “The Good Mothers” is a series that speaks about the strength and resilience of the women who decided they had had enough.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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