The early, claustrophobic life of a great of British working class painting

November 14, 2019

Mrs Lowry & Son
Directed by Adrian Noble
Starring Vanessa Redgrave & Timothy Spall
In cinemas as part of the MINI British Film Festival

This film adaptation of the stage play by Martyn Hesford shows the early life of one of the titans of modern British art, L. S. Lowry, famous for his paintings of “matchstick people” going about their lives in working class northern England.

His simplistic style evokes beauty in what was considered squalid and lower class.

In his personal life, as shown here, Lowry was locked into a dysfunctional, co-dependant relationship with his mother. She opposed his painting ambitions and kept him living with her, ministering to all her needs until her death in 1939, when he was aged 52.

It was only then that he began exhibiting, finding success in the post-WWII cultural wave that celebrated working-class life.

Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall are two of the heavyweights of British theatre and here they deliver an acting masterclass. Redgrave is a cantankerous and manipulative middle-class snob, while Spall exhibits loneliness and intense, buried emotions.

Concentrated as it is on a gruelling relationship lived out in a single room, this film is emotionally claustrophobic.

Ironically, L.S. Lowry, while famous for evoking working class life stayed true to his mother’s class prejudices and voted Tory all his life!

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