The Mother (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/10/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 111 mins

Well written, superbly acted and impressively directed drama – you’ll never look at your grandmother in quite the same way again…

The Mother reunites the team behind the BBC’s The Buddha of Suburbia: writer Hanif Kureshi, director Roger Michell and producer Kevin Loader. It’s an engaging, occasionally shocking film with a terrific central performance by Anne Reid. It’s also extremely well directed – it’s hard to believe that this is by the same man who made the execrable Notting Hill.

Suddenly A Widow…

Anne Reid (who may be familiar from TV’s Dinnerladies) stars as May, an ordinary grandmother from the suburbs. While on a visit to her grown-up children (Cathryn Bradshaw and Steven Mackintosh), her husband, Toots (Peter Vaughan) suddenly dies, leaving her a widow.

Fearful of becoming an invisible old lady, she refuses to return to their house and instead moves in with her neurotic daughter, Paula (Bradshaw).

However, she finds herself all but ignored by her family and the only person who pays any attention to her is Darren (Daniel Craig), a young man half her age who is building her son’s conservatory and sleeping with her daughter. The pair develop a friendship and gradually become closer, until, one day, May asks Darren to take her upstairs…

Shocking Sex Scenes

Anne Reid is perfectly cast as May and delivers a stunning performance. She begins the film as a plain, mousy, quiet woman (she looks, in fact, like some sort of EveryGrandmother) but gradually – like Muriel in Muriel’s Wedding - becomes more beautiful as the film progresses. Similarly, the sex scenes are shocking (although thankfully not explicit, though there is nudity) but in a way that forces you to confront your reaction to them.

Craig is equally good – his slightly off-centre performance renders their relationship entirely believable, though his character does undergo too much of a shift in the final reel, which rings a little false.

Bradshaw is excellent, too and the relationship between mother and daughter is beautifully drawn. (The ‘reveal’ scene, when Bradshaw discovers the truth about her mother’s activities via her book of explicit sketches is implausible but also highly amusing). Finally, Mackintosh is also well-cast and does a lot with a relatively small part, managing to subtly suggest a character with crushes on both his best friend AND his mother (his reaction to the sketches is priceless).

The script, for the most part, is excellent, though there are one or two dodgy moments. There are several great scenes, however and the film also makes excellent use of strong location work in and around West London.

To sum up, The Mother is a moving, thought-provoking, occasionally darkly funny and shocking drama with an excellent central performance by Reid. Recommended.

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Content updated: 20/08/2018 09:22

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