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TIFF Review: Mothering Sunday Is A Tender Portrayal Of Loss & Its Lasting Impact

The film is tender and thoughtful in its exploration of loss, lingering in the details and memories shaping life, almost reverent in its approach.

Grief permeates Mothering Sunday, suffocating every aspect of the characters’ lives, weighing heavily on their minds and encroaching on the daily joys that once existed in the years prior. It ebbs and flows, influences, and also inspires, but is never forgotten; even as the years and life goes on, the aching feeling remains, the collective loss so overwhelming that to continue functioning often feels nearly impossible. Directed by Eva Husson from a screenplay by Alice Birch, Mothering Sunday (based on the novel by Graham Swift) leans into the heaviness of grief in the years after World War I. The film is tender and thoughtful in its exploration of loss, lingering in the details and memories shaping life, almost reverent in its approach.

Mothering Sunday follows Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young), a maid working for the Nivens (Colin Firth and Olivia Colman) in the countryside of England. The Nivens have lost their two sons to the war and their every interaction with each other depicts how strained their relationship has become since. Jane keeps to herself for the most part, but her affair with Paul Sheringham (Josh O’Connor), the son of the Nivens’ friends and neighbors, involves her in the heavy emotions and stories of the family. The story primarily takes place on Mother’s Day in 1924, though the film sets off to visit Jane’s future and her relationship with Donald (Sope Dirisu) at various points. 

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