Preface: A quote from Sheila Heti’s book Pure Colour which sums up the special quality of relationships falling on the cusp, fitting my experience with the movie Mothering Sunday:
“Sometimes a person is meant to move forward in the world with the one they love at a distance, and that the distance is there to make it more beautiful. To find the right distance from everything in life is the most important thing. To stand at the right distance, like God standing back from the canvas…”
After a re-watch and listening to interviews (along with a re-reading the novella by Graham Swift), my review is akin to the main character Jane (played by Odessa Young), who doesn’t write about her experience until long after. Some movies and encounters have to marinate before a final critique can be made.
Alice Birch and Eva Husson adapted Graham Swifts’ Mothering Sunday to film and the outcome is quite ethereal. Without reading the book, the film may appear to be cotton candy, heavenly sweet to eat, but certainly not sustenance.
A shame, too, since the four award winning grand slam team: Olivia Coleman (1 Oscar), who, with her gorgeous hang dog eyes, needed very little screen time to make me tear up. Likewise with Josh O’Connor (2 BAFTA’s), who, if I was 20 years younger, would be stalking. His shy handsome innocence is simply irresistible. Even when he’s doing something immoral, his apologetic air grants him instant exoneration.
Colin Firth (1 Oscar) does what Colin does best, look forlorn and penned in. Last but most successful, Glenda Jackson (2 Oscars) is the nonplussed 86 year old author book ending the film.
Husson chose wisely in breathing life from the saucy book in selecting Odessa Young, (fantastic in Shirley from 2017) the orphaned maid with few choices given the movie’s setting is World War I England.
With a few more story facts spelled out more clearly, I think the disjointed structure would have seemed smoother. As in real life, if we spent the bulk our life in dream state, day or night, chaos would ensue. In film, like Mothering Sunday, clarity would have heightened the meaning worthy of its high caliber actors.