Adrian Noble‘s Mrs Lowry & Son paints a portrait of the artist L.S. Lowry and the relationship with his mother, who tries to dissuade him from pursuing his passion. This conventional drama never delivers anything fresh or outlandish and is as forgettable as they come.

When we first meet L.S. Lowry (Timothy Spall), wandering the streets of good old industrial Pendlebury, Lancashire, it quickly becomes clear he has a good soul and entertains poor children in the street, playing some version of hide and seek. He’s been painting all his life, but has never had a breakthrough with his recently more depressing and naive art. He takes care of his bedridden mother Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave), who in her turn tries to push her small minded ideas and problems from the past onto him, to put him down in the most verbally aggressive ways.

Martyn Hesford‘s cinematic debut as a writer is off-putting and, as the title states, focuses almost solely on Mrs Lowry. Interestingly enough, this uneventful backstory on L.S. Lowry’s adult life pre-fame, is trying very hard not to be a biopic, yet dips its toes in that pool, every time an on screen real life replica of one of Lowry’s paintings, gets brought to life. This weird choice of almost painting-like cinematography doesn’t fit in with the entirety of the film’s vision and thus pulls you out of what the film is actually trying to tell. Strangely enough, how humdrum the film can be, the pacing is perfect and the 90 minutes drift by easily, without ever overstaying its welcome.

Vanessa Redgrave, being the main protagonist, gives an emotionally shattering performance as the woman who might have raised a son, but is now a vile and bitter old lady. She captures the essence of her character, changing her mind with the wind and hammering down on the artistic vision of her character’s son, and never giving in to that motherly instinct. Timothy Spall as L.S. Lowry is mostly forgettable, apart from one scene in which a sudden outburst of emotions, gives him something to do, other than standing around muttering words and looking dull.

While Mrs Lowry & Son isn’t anything remarkable whatsoever, it does give Vanessa Redgrave, as the impeccably powerful actress she is, a reason to paint another significant canvas to add to her already legendary collection of artistic choices. The film could’ve been absorbingly engrossing as part of an actual full length biopic on one of the most iconic British artists ever lived, since we rarely get anything of that sorts. If a director/writer duo ever decides to bring Lowry’s story to the big screen, don’t hold back, push through and tell the whole story on who this man and the people who influenced his life really were.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Review – ‘Mrs Lowry & Son’

Reviewed online, Sydney, Nov. 27, 2019. Australian Classification: PG. Running time: 91 min.

PRODUCTION: A Rialto Distribution release of a Genesius Pictures production. Producer: Debbie Gray. Executive producers: Jon Exton, Gianfrancesco Favino, Julian Gleek, Philip Greader, Jason Haigh-Ellery, Simon Lenagan, Alex Segal. Associate producers: Jonathan Abrahams, Tom Bloxham, David Charles, Tim Dumenil, John Faith, Cindy King, Christopher Little, Stuart Piper, Ramin Sabi. Co-producer: Caitlin Albery Beavan, Tom Miller, Aaron Rollin.

CREW: Director: Adrian Noble. Screenplay: Martyn Hesford. Camera (color, widescreen): Josep M. Civit. Editor: Chris Gill. Music: Craig Armstrong.

WITH: Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Spall, Stephen Lord, Wendy Morgan, Michael Keogh.

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