Mothering Sunday is another of those languid films that envelopes you in its intimacy. Depending upon what type of movie you’re looking for – you will either love or hate it.
The movie’s plot is in the title: mothering day(s) are the Sundays servants had off to visit their families. The movie takes place on a mothering day in 1924. Two families gather for a riverside picnic. They arrive to marquees, chilled wine and bountiful food — can you imagine having a host of people setting your picnic up so all you have to do is arrive? Then why is the mood ‘off’? It’s a glorious English day, soft insect sounds, gently lapping river – it is a pastoral idyll, right? Zoom in closer and closer and the tension is palpable. Mrs Niven (Olivia Colman) is silent, grumpy and seemingly out of sorts. Everyone is ill at ease as they wait.
The narrative flashes back fill in the gaps; it also flashes sideways to see what others are doing on this mothering Sunday; and even forwards to explore what will happen. Yes, the movie does bounce around drawing together the threads of the protagonist’s life. And it can be confusing, but the slower pace gives plenty of time for audiences to keep up.
Mothering Sunday is based on the novella by Graham Swift. Colin Firth is great as Mr Niven, the tolerant husband constantly caught in the flashpoints of his wife’s anger and his own sorrow. Colman’s final outburst is as unexpected as it is vitriolic – one of the movie’s best scenes.
In all, it’s a beautifully shot movie – especially the finale of Mothering Day 1924 – the editing of this ‘scene’ is masterful: corridors morph into roads that rise into aerial shots. In fact, there are many shots of corridors, hallways, roads, and pathways and other metaphorical moments. Savour them—and the many wee items that become the focus of the camera, they’re not simply cinematic indulgence. But what do they mean, to you ?
1 hour 44 minutes
Rating : R. Warning: full frontal male and female nudity.