March 25, 2020  (Web Review)

Mrs. Lowry & Son

MVD, 91 min., not rated, DVD: $19.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

After playing the great British painter J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh’s acclaimed Mr. Turner, Timothy Spall takes on the role of a very different English artist. Mrs. Lowry and Son is an intimate, tender portrait of the deep but complicated relationship between Laurence S. Lowry, who toils as an accountant to support his art, and his invalid mother Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave), a bitter, bankrupt widow resentful of their working-class existence. She belittles Laurence’s expression of the world’s wonder in his stories and paintings. The film is carried by the mother and son’s deep rapport, taking place mostly in Elizabeth’s bedroom, as Laurence cares for her, keeps her company, and strives to get his mother to understand and appreciate his work despite her obsession with social affirmation. Redgrave offers a complex, nuanced performance as the domineering matriarch who nonetheless deeply loves her boy and Spall complements her as the attentive son who remains committed to his art, driven by the beauty he beholds while she only sees ugliness and squalor. Director Adrian Noble ends the film before Lowry was embraced as one of England’s most celebrated painters and offers a look at some of his most famous works in the epilogue. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)