The director spent years following Diane and her brood around Brooklyn, and the film's casual narrative encompasses two and a half years of the household's troubled existence. Diane has brought her five living children back under one roof - her eldest son Charles, with three years of college under his belt, committed suicide after finding his mother's habit and the chaotic home life that arose from it too much to bear - but has discovered that she hardly knows them. This is particularly the case with her 18-year-old daughter Love, who is HIV-positive and mother to a baby boy named Donyaeh, also infected with the disease. Love's years in foster and group homes have turned her into an angry, petulant child, desperate for love and comfort but quick to shut out the world when things seem too overwhelming. As a result of her baby's HIV status, Love is able to get a subsidy for public housing, allowing Diane and the kids to move into a larger apartment in Flatbush, and for a time it seems to Diane that life has finally gained some semblance of hope and normalcy. But Love's mothering skills are in short supply, and Diane's frustrations regarding her daughter's maternal negligence spill out during a therapy session. Soon, the cops have arrived to take Donyaeh into foster care custody while Love is charged with parental neglect, thus throwing not only the mother-daughter relationship into disarray, but also the family's housing situation.
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