This period romance goes beyond usual clichés to probe the creative mind

Film | Jorge Ignacio Castillo | April 7, 2022

Mothering Sunday
Roxy Theatre
Opens April 22
3 out of 5

Based on a 2016 novel by English writer Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday (a reference to a day off traditionally given to servants to visit family) unfolds in three timelines.

The main story is set in 1924. Jane (Odessa Young) is the maid for the Nivens, a well-off couple (Colin Firth and Olivia Colman) who lost both their sons in World War I. Jane is having a secret affair with the scion of another upper class family who suffered a similar tragedy. Their relationship is doomed, though, as the man is set to marry a woman in his social circle.

We encounter Jane twice more in the future: first, as a struggling writer living a bohemian life; and later, as a successful octogenarian novelist (played by Glenda Jackson) taking stock of her life and career.

The common thread throughout is a sense of restlessness and dissatisfaction: qualities that may, in the long run, help a person achieve success, but are hard to live with.

Mothering Sunday also depicts pain as nourishing, but only if you choose to accept it as such. The Nivens’ grief over the loss of their sons has basically turned them into zombies who cry occasionally. Jane takes it in, and turns it into art, a process all too familiar for artists everywhere.

The film is directed by Eva Husson, and would be a small, self-contained period art piece if it wasn’t for the actors involved: Colman, Firth, Jackson, Josh O’Connor (The Queen), all of whom are game for relatively small roles. The young lead holds her own, and appears poised to join their ranks. If you’re up for some adult entertainment (not that kind), give it a shot.