There was no harsher critic of famed British painter L. S. Lowry than that of his bedridden mother. Her damning critiques, a symptom of her crippling neurosis, handed out to her son as regularly as cups of tea on a cold English night. (And being just as scorching).
How Lowry’s toxic relationship with his ailing mother stunted his career is explored with stagy sensibilities in the 2019 biographical drama, Mrs Lowry & Son.
It will come as no surprise to learn that director Adrian Noble comes from the world of theatre. Noble’s sense of minimalist mise en scène coupled with his focus on characters tormenting one another lends itself nicely to producing theatre on West End. His mission in Mrs Lowry & Son is not to commemorate the legacy of a gifted artist, but to poeticise Lowry’s mistreatment in a dramatic fashion.
Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave, two of the strongest actors working today, do their best with the fervent dialogue given to them. Noble’s penchant for the melodramatic, gunning so badly for L. S. Lowry to break under the weight of abuse in an elaborate fashion, is where Mrs Lowry & Son gives in to hefty sensationalism.
The struggle had by Noble to balance the theatrical with the cinematic creates for some unevenness throughout Mrs Lowry & Son. He forces fruitless filmmaking techniques, such as the superimposing of memories to show characters revelling in happier times, to counteract the theatrical components.
It is a feat that unfortunately fails to justify the films existence on-screen, with Mrs Lowry & Son proving a colourless exercise in dramatic acting.
Mrs Lowry & Son screens nationally across Australia. For more information, visit: www.au.rialtodistribution.com for details.
Image: Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall star in Mrs Lowry & Son – courtesy of Rialto Distribution
Review: Hagan Osborne