Love, loss and chocolate box

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied


Director: Eva Husson Cast: Odessa Young, Josh O’Connor, Colin Firth, Olivia Colman, Patsy Ferran, Glenda Jackson
Rating: (M) Three stars 

We tend to think of the 1920s as one long party but of course it was also a time of great sadness. Less flappers and cocktails and more going through the dreary motions for those left behind.

Mothering Sunday (Rialto and Reading) is based on Graham Swift’s 2016 novel in which the freedom of Mothering Sunday (aka Mother’s Day) allows orphaned housemaid Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young) to snatch precious hours with her secret lover Paul Sheringham (Josh O’Connor) before he marries a woman of his social class.

Paul is the only surviving son of three boys and, apart from the obvious, he likes to spend his time with Jane recounting stories of his glorious youth before the war ruined everything.

Jane’s employers, the Nivens (Firth and Coleman), have also lost their sons in the war. He retreats to talking trivialities while she seethes. Jane primly hugs her secret to her but by the end of 1924’s Mothering Sunday everything has changed and she must strike out to fulfil her own destiny.

This is one of those films that drag on without all that much actually happening but afterwards they lodge in your mind as you wonder what exactly the point of it was.

Mothering Sunday does have delicious imagery. Not just the chocolate box of English country life but a vivid way of conveying those moments in life when love and loss make you feel so intensely alive that everything becomes supercharged and the mundane becomes forever imprinted on your memory.

Still, the wisest course would probably be to read the book.

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