Mothering Sunday

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 quality time with her secret lover. Paul is the boy from the manor house nearby, 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.


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at 18:24 pm

Told by way of a retrospective triptych of recollections from the now successful author "Jane" (Glenda Jackson), we are taken back in time to her younger self - Odessa Young - who portrays an orphaned young maid working in the home of the "Niven" family - Colin Firth and Olivia Colman. Over the course of the first portion of the film we learn that she has been having a dalliance with "Paul" (Josh O'Connor), the son of the neighbouring "Sheringham" family. The pair appear in love with each other, but he is promised elsewhere - what happens next? This features quite a delicate effort from Young, more remarkable because she appears in a great many scenes completely naked (as does O'Connor) - but not gratuitously so. It is the most natural of scenarios. There is nothing more odd in a film than scenes that show lust and sex then conclude with one or both miraculously having acquired underwear! Eva Husson offers us a glimpse of a romance that is gently plausible and engaging. That does, however, bring us to the rest of story. That's not so hot, and initially set after the end of WWI, steeps us in familial grief and sadness but without us really having anything like enough information to empathise nor commiserate. Cigarettes feature prominently too - like a sort of prop for the seductive but underused O'Connor and for his would-be bride (Caroline Harker). There is also something very predictable about this conclusion of this stage of her life, and the relationship between Firth and Young left me puzzled a bit. The second element sees "Jane" living in London with her new partner "Donald" (Sope Dirisu) - but that somehow dilutes the overall impact of the first element. It presents a rather sad chapter in her life, but to what end? Just to perpetuate the sensation that melancholia follows her around as night follows day? He is a man of colour, yet the relative rarity of that scenario in Britain at the time isn't in any way developed. Indeed, it just sort of peters out. The final scenes with Glenda Jackson are poignant. They depict a rather lonely - if stoic - old lady who, perhaps not unlike the lady herself, is looking back on her own life... It is a great looking film, lots of fine costumes and stately homes - but somehow it undercooks the primary element and clutters the story up with the others. It all felt just a little bit hollow.