I really wanted to like this, but alas not all films are masterpieces.
Mrs Lowry & Son follows renowned British artist L.S. Lowry, played by Timothy Spall, through his day-to-day life as a struggling artist, supressed by his overbearing, closed minded and mentally abusive mother, portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave. I was unfamiliar with director Adrian Noble, which I later found out is because he is primarily known for directing theatre productions and has only dipped his toes into the film industry on two other occasions, with the results being fairly forgettable. His theatre background is probably the main cause of this film’s odd pacing, which I will touch on later.
I am genuinely disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this because I quite like Lowry’s art, not to mention that the film has a fairly important, though somewhat clichéd, message at its core. Other than that, many of its ideas and themes are fairly out-dated and along with an extremely slow paced script and some questionable acting choices, I just found the delivery of this story to be quite bland and boring. I will only quickly touch the negatives before I move onto some positives, because I don’t like being too harsh or straight up hateful when reviewing films, as I know how much effort has been put in and how many people have been involved behind the scenes.
Firstly, the actual premise of the film just isn’t very intriguing to me. I am aware that this is based off a true story and so there is only so much room for creative freedom, but there is little to no character development throughout the entirety of the narrative, which proved to be extremely frustrating. This, along with the lack of backstory given, other than in flashbacks, makes it very difficult to build a strong connection to any of the characters including L.S. Lowry himself. Also, though this may seem harsh, I don’t think I have ever wanted a character to die
more than I did with Mrs Lowry in this film; she is just the worst, so I guess I have to give credit to Vanessa Redgrave for her exponentially unlikeable performance.
Though some of the narration is well written and thought provoking, the majority of the rest of the dialogue feels disjointed and unengaging. You could put this down to the subject matter, but I’ve watched many films about art, or slow paced films about family in which I haven’t been able to look away for even a moment. So in this instance I have to largely put it down to the writing, direction and to an extent the acting.
On the flips side of all that, the repetitive, uneventful nature of the film does mirror the frustrating life LS Lowry lead, and comments on the type of relationship he had with his mother. But as this approach leads to a grating viewing experience and therefore negatively impacts the film’s quality, I’m not sure if I can see this as much of a win.
One of its best assets, and my favourite aspect of this film, is the colour palette and the portrayal of Pendlebury, which is where the Lowrys lived. It poses an interesting contrast between the inside of Mrs Lowry’s room, which seemed to be the extent of her knowledge of the world, and the actual reality of it all, or at least how it was from L.S. Lowry’s perspective. The composition of many of the shots directly imitated that of some of Lowry’s most well known works, which I thought was a nice touch and provided some moments of satisfaction for keen eyed viewers. On the topic of aesthetics, some of the CGI used to recreate the factories and the scenery from that time is extremely noticeable. But with a budget of $1.3 million that is a forgivable and minor detail.
I think Mrs Lowry & Son is quite simply about appreciating of the beauty and art in every single aspect of life, no matter how unsightly or dull. So maybe I’m just not the correct target audience, or maybe I’m just like Lowry’s mother and I can’t see the beauty in the mundane. I think Adrian Noble was trying to do something with this film, but to me this was merely a lacklustre story of a tax collector and an invalid… nothing more, nothing less.
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EAMON KINGSTON (@eamon.dane)
Eamon recently graduated from the acting course at New York Film Academy Gold Coast, and has been let loose into the big wide world to find his way in the confusing maze that is the film industry. In his Eamon’s words “I have a passion for film, obviously, but also music, art and football (soccer, because this is Australia). I look forward to giving you my thoughts on all the latest films, and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer.” Keep up to date with Eamon on Instagram and on Letterboxd.com.