Mamma Roma is an Italian film about a mother and her son. The story starts out at a wedding, where Mamma Roma is there to haunt her ex-husband and his new bride. Momma Roma is a loud woman that is often on the crude side. She brings three pigs and tells the guests the in-laws have finally arrived. Mamma makes many jabs and jokes about the couple, and we soon see she had a son with this man, who witnesses this entire spectacle even if he doesn't fully understand it.
The story resumes when her son Ettore is now a teenager and Mamma Roma wants to give him a chance to get away from the country life to live with her in Rome. Ettore is set in his ways by this point, so it isn't easy to mold him into something else. Although Ettore walks like a tough guy and is always giving some cold looks to those he meets, he is naive and inexperienced, and his mother knows this.
There are a couple scenes that approach having a surrealistic feeling where Mamma Roma is walking at night. There are many lampposts in the background that give off their light, and as Mamma Roma walks, there always seems to be more of the same lights everywhere. She talks to someone next to her and as one person leaves, another comes. But as the lights in the background still look more or less the same, it seems she hardly went anywhere at all. It makes an interesting backdrop as Momma tells her life story to people on the street.
Mamma Roma is haunted by her past; she was a prostitute and her reputation still follows her. Roma takes many steps to better her life and she wants the same for her son, but shaking free of the past isn't easy. Ironically, Ettore is attracted to a young woman that has the reputation of sleeping with the entire city. Mamma Roma is a mother that means well and really wants the best for her son, but it is an uphill battle. Most of the story is unpredictable, so there are some surprises in story for us as we learn about Mamma Roma.