Sunday, 15 December 2019

Artist was longing for mother’s love

THIS tense domestic drama paints a portrait of LS Lowry, one of Britain’s iconic artists, and the relationship with his mother, who tries to dissuade him from pursuing his passion.

Mrs Lowry & Son follows Lowry, played by Timothy Spall, in the beginnings of his career where he wants nothing more than to see his work appreciated in London.

Lowry is not yet established as an artist and is working as a rent collector, walking the streets of Salford, mixing with factory workers and observing the town closely.

In the evenings he takes art classes and paints until the early hours of the morning.

He is resolutely loyal and well mannered towards his overbearing mother Elizabeth, played by Vanessa Redgrave, with whom he lives until her death.

Elizabeth tries her utmost to sink the ambitions of her bachelor son and she never misses an opportunity to voice her opinion at what a disappointment he is to her.

However, it is with great irony that she is the reason that Lowry paints anything at all. Indeed, Lowry is desperate to create something — anything — which will make her happy.

Mrs Lowry & Son thus plays out an obsessive mother and son relationship whose love for each other comes at cross purposes. This does bring with it some delightful moments of humour that can only be achieved through the parent-child relationship.

What makes this film so powerful is director Adrian Noble’s decision to play out most of the film in Elizabeth’s bedroom.

Yes, that is somewhat unavoidable given Elizabeth is bed-ridden but it takes two actors of some standing to create such believable characters and gripping scenes in a confined space.

Spall has for a while been considered as one of the country’s best actors since he gained wider recognition after picking up the best actor award at Cannes for his performance as J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner.

Everything in this film seems to suggest that more awards and recognition will be on their way.

Lowry became internationally famous for his depictions of 20th century industrial life in the North West of England. He was offered five honours on his lifetime, including a knighthood in 1968 — all of which he rejected.

Eventually his work was displayed in a retrospective, record-breaking exhibition at the Tate gallery in London and his work sells for millions of pounds.

Mrs Lowry & Son is now showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse cinema.

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