Mothering Sunday (15)
Mothering Sunday (15)
Director: Eva Husson
Runtime: 110 Mins
Cast: Odessa Young, Josh O’Connor, Ṣọpẹ́.Dìrís, Glenda Jackson, Olivia Colman, Colin Firth
Synopsis: On a warm spring day in 1924, house maid and foundling Jane Fairchild finds herself alone on Mother’s Day. Her employers, Mr and Mrs Niven are out and she has the rare chance to spend an afternoon of abandon with her secret lover, Paul, the boy from the manor house nearby who is Jane’s long-term love despite the fact that he’s engaged to be married to another woman, a childhood friend and daughter of his parents’ friends. But events that neither can foresee will change the course of Jane’s life forever.
Mothering Sunday is an intelligent, affecting post-WWI British upper-class drama infused with a dash of French eroticism, director Eva Husson’s [Bang Gang (2015)] first English language film.
Exquisitely crafted, with an outstanding ensemble of acting talent – including Colin Firth and Olivia Coleman – the beautiful cinematography of Jamie Ramsay and Morgan Kibby’s sublime, original score emphasise the film’s almost dream-like time shifts.
The film is based on Graham Swift’s eponymous 2016 novel with a script by Alice Birch [Lady Macbeth (2016)]; it revolves around an orphaned maid, Jane Fairchild [Odessa Young –Shirley (2020)] who has the rare chance to spend an afternoon of abandon with her secret lover, Paul [Josh O’Connor – God’s Own Country (2017), The Crown (2019-2020)]. He is the boy from the manor house nearby who is Jane’s long-term love, despite the fact that he is engaged to be married to another woman, a childhood friend and daughter of his parents’ friends. But events that neither can foresee will change the course of Jane’s life forever.
Jane has ambitions to be a writer and Mothering Sunday follows her through the decades, first when she is in a relationship with an academic philosopher and later (with a cameo by Glenda Jackson) when she gives an awkward reaction to being doorstepped by journalists about a major literary award.
“Once upon a time,” the film opens in haunting voiceover, “before the boys were killed,” lived a happy trio of Berkshire well-to-do families, linked together by affection and common concerns.
The story begins on Mothering Sunday in 1924. Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young) is the orphaned maid of the Nivens (played by Colman and Firth), who have lost both their sons in the war. The pair are marking this now sad day with similarly bereaved friends the Sheringhams, who have buried two of their three sons and have pinned all their hopes on Paul (O’Connor), who has found himself engaged to his dead brother’s girlfriend, with a career in law expected of him.
The event of Mothering Sunday does not feel like a celebration, however much champagne they drink in the beautiful English countryside. This is a group unable to articulate their great grief and sorrow. Even the conflicted Paul only feels liberated with Jane and they have long been romantically entangled, but with his wedding now imminent their romance is doomed.
This is an emotional, melancholic film about love, loss, repressed grief, duty and class.
Images courtesy of: LIONSGATE