Run time: 104 mins
In the aftermath of the First World War, a forbidden love affair between a maid and her employer’s friend’s son unravels as reality takes hold.
Dwelling in a sprawling Home Counties mansion, Mr and Mrs Niven (Colin Firth and Olivia Coleman) are emotionally decimated by the death of their sons in the First World War. Dining with their neighbours, the Sheringham family, offers little distraction from their loss as the Sheringham’s son Paul (Josh O’Connor) survived the conflict. For Jane (Odessa Young), an orphan and the Niven’s maid, these interactions give a curious insight into family life. She and Paul then embark on an illicit but deeply passionate affair which soon becomes blighted by Paul’s awareness of the expectations that press upon him: a suitable career, but above all else, a suitable marriage.
Mothering Sunday is faithful adaptation by Alice Birch of Graham Swift’s 2016 novel that carefully translates the simmering tensions with subtle dialogue, sensitive performances, and intuitive cinematography. A tender exploration by director Eva Husson of the importance of family, private passions and freedom, it’s bound to become a classic of the Atonement vein.