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Movie Review

Release Date: 04/08/22
Genre: Drama/Romance

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics


"A maid living in post-World War I England secretly plans to meet with the man she loves before he leaves to marry another woman."


Mothering Sunday has garnered quite a lot of praise critically since its initial international release, but to be entirely truthful – the praise may be unjustified. Mothering Sunday feels almost like a fan fiction spin-off for the critically adored Downton Abbey – set in the 1920s. While not personally clocking the amount of time our lead Odessa Young was to some extent naked in the film – it felt needless to the story. Her nudity, while providing some realism to the overarching secret romance between a prosperous head of a household and a maid for another family – the length in which she remains uncovered is almost tiresome.


The provocative romance the film attempts to build comes with no repercussions – it lets the viewer believe that things may either come to a screeching halt for our lead or soar above expectations. In all actuality it feels like the film decided it ran out of story and went with the unexpected, but unflattering end to their love story.


Based on a novel of the same name by Graham Swift – reading the synopsis of the book versus the film – it sounds like the novel might have been able to better flesh out the characters. One of the big things I noticed in the description of the novel is that the two lovers: Jane and Paul knew each other growing up, which in the film is never established – making this affair feel like simply a fling. So when tragedy strikes – it doesn’t have much weight behind it.


A major positive for the film is the fantastic cast hidden behind these unremarkable characters. Olivia Coleman and Colin Firth are completely wasted as supporting characters that are provided almost no level of depth. Firth delivers the most promise out of the cast, but even so, his material desperately needed fleshed out. For our actual leads of Paul and Jane – I couldn’t tell if either of the two were truly entangled with the other. The love story felt like an absolute sham. 


Numerous characters are entirely dropped before they reach a satisfying conclusion and the way the film decides to close Jane’s story by diving quickly into her future feels detached from the rest of the film. Moments of her future are scattered throughout the feature and this past to future storytelling is hard to latch onto – truthfully it can be difficult to follow.


Mothering Sunday may be only an hour and 44 minutes but it feels far longer, with its numerous love scenes, dull picnic lunches and tiring scenes of Jane wandering the halls of Paul’s estate completely in the nude. The film feels like it wants to be an art house period piece but beyond some worthy cinematography – you’d be better off watching a Keira Knightley led feature or even Downton Abbey for your historical fix.

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