The Mother Roger Michell

Knowing that the director of Notting Hill created this film does not promote confidence in the possible quality of The Mother, but Roger Michell surprises by bringing a film that should never be mentioned in the same sentence as that Julia Roberts pap. The Mother in question is May (Anne Reid), a recently widowed old woman who is somewhat removed from her children in their adulthood. She goes to them when her husband dies after deciding she can't just sit around her house becoming old. Though she isn't popular with either of her children, her daughter, Paula (Cathryn Bradshaw), tries to make the best of her arrival and half-heartedly welcomes her into her home. Quickly May becomes an afterthought in her family's lives and she finds she is of no use to anyone. It is only her daughter's boyfriend, Darren (Daniel Craig), who is willing to spend time with her and soon they begin having an affair. The sex scenes between the young man and "the mother" are not like the average rumpy pumpy glistening sex scenes we're used to. Instead, they are a lot more intimate and explicit. Without being overly graphic, Darren lays next to May in the bed with one arm under the covers as she writhes and moans. It is clear that May hasn't felt this way in years, perhaps decades. The special features on the DVD include the standard featurette and commentary package. The featurette is short and acts as more of an ad for the film featuring the cast and crew describing the storyline. Be sure not to watch it before viewing the film; it will ruin the experience. This is not just the story of a beautiful, forbidden relationship, rather it is a portrait of a dysfunctional family and the matriarch who causes many of the problems. Beyond the striking performances of the two lead actors, the look of the film is what truly makes it stand out. Most of the plot takes place inside houses, so hallways and doorframes are used to creatively frame action, and characters walk in and out of the camera's view during continuous takes. The cinematographer chooses to focus on objects such as billowing drapery or a hand on the railing, rather than the two characters in the scene, and this is what makes The Mother a gorgeous, as well as engrossing, watch. (Columbia TriStar)