'Mrs. Lowry & Son'
(Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Spall, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / MVD Visual)
Overview: Beloved British artist L.S. Lowry (Timothy Spall) lived all his life with his over-bearing mother Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave).
Bed-ridden and bitter, Elizabeth actively tried to dissuade her bachelor son from pursuing his artistic ambitions, whilst never failing to voice her opinion at what a disappointment he was to her.
DVD Verdict: A beautifully measured, understated yet poignant film centered on the confused and fraught relationship between Lowry and his domineering, judgmental mother.
Vanessa Redgrave, despite being elderly and bedridden gives a fearsome performance as a woman despairing of her sons preoccupation with art and obsessed by her fall in social status caused by the failings of her long gone husband.
Lowry played enigmatically and hauntingly by Spall is like a ghost within the family home, a virtual prisoner of his controlling mother yet somehow still managing to stay faithful to his calling as a great and groundbreaking artist.
The film is theatrical and none the worse for it, even here on the small screen via DVD from MVD Visual. The direction is subtle and nuanced allowing the two actors to really show their abilities.
For a film that fundamentally takes place in one room it never feels labored or too claustrophobic and outside of Redgrave and Spall's stand out performances credit should also go to the beautiful musical score which somehow binds the picture together.
Some wonderful interaction between Spall and Redgrave is punctuated with some splendid trick photography as we see scenes of people and places through the artists eyes.
Again, it's a not a showy overblown film, but an introverted one that shows how poorly the artist was perceived at the time but with a glimmer of hope that better times lay ahead.
The scene where time stops and Lowry walks between workers leaving a factory is particularly memorable.
In closing, 'Mrs Lowry & Son' s the most delightfully perfect antidote to the smash, bashy, crashy big budget action films of the summer. A wonderful character driven story with two great actors who bring pathos to the story. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.