Films and Television shows such as Downton Abbey, Gosford Park, and Howards End have shed light on the service industry in Great Britain and the British Isles. They show this world in a way they haven’t been shown before. They give credence to people who otherwise wouldn’t be discussed very much in these mediums. Mothering Sunday is another film that deals with the service industry in greater England and its surrounding territories.
Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young) is a maid for the Niven family. Mr. and Mrs. Niven (Colin Firth and Olivia Colman) have decided to go on a luncheon at a nearby park by a river. While they are gone, they give Jane the day off. She goes for a bike ride and stops by the house down the road where she has an affair with the neighbor Paul (Josh O’Connor, The Crown).
Odessa Young is an Australian actress. She is a revelation in this film. She’s had some roles here and there in various movies and television projects, but this is her breakout role. The film depicts her in two different eras of time. In both, she seems like a different person. One a more innocent service maid and the other a seasoned author with more life experience. These two aspects of her life are fascinating because she has to be distinctly different in both worlds she existed in. She is excellent in both, but the best scenes and more character development happens while she’s a maid.
The journey of this woman is the key to how this film works. Her place in society changed, and once that happened, her entire life changed for the better. Her life’s journey gave her a life she had always dreamed of. Being the person nobody sees had its advantages because she could use this life she had to write books later in life. All these things she was thinking and feeling could be put down in words. It’s the greatest feeling in the world when someone likes what you wrote, which made her a happy person in her later years.
This film takes place on Mother’s Day in 1924, hence the title. The director, Eva Husson, captured this period perfectly. The various aspects of the characters, from the clothes, hairstyles, cars, and how the houses looked, were all done terrifically. The two sides of the main character were done fine, but the first half of the film was a bit better. Even though the story was based on Graham Swift’s novel, it was more interesting when she focused the movie on the younger version of Young’s character.
The film also has a nice score by Morgan Kibby. During the film’s first half, the music was melancholy and softer. Once the middle and later parts of the film came, the score became more serious and louder, reflecting on what was going on in the movie. Along with the score was the editing of the film. Husson cut back and forth between multiple places in the first half, showing the various people doing different things and how time worked in conjunction with the multiple characters. The third act didn’t work as well with this aspect of the film.
Mothering Sunday depicted a beautiful love story between these two people from different aspects of life. One of a well-to-do life and one of service life. These two seemed perfect for one another, and their story is what drives the film. That’s only two-thirds of the film, though, and the third act doesn’t work as much as the first two. The acting, on the whole, is very good, but Young gives the performance of her career. She is the driving force behind this beautiful love story.
3 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media