English artist Lowry famously painted industrial districts of North West England. Whilst often overlooked in the art world, others admire his authenticity and distinctiveness. Like Lowry’s art, Mrs Lowry & Son is likely to receive mixed levels of appreciation. This film seems not to be about garnering money or renown. It is about creating art and celebrating the artist who inspired this artful film.
Did I mention the word art?
The film takes place in the period of time before Lowry becomes Lowry. Flashbacks to his childhood appear sporadically; each are short to keep the focus on the main timeline. The majority of the action takes place in Lowry’s mother’s bedroom. This highlighted the importance Lowry bestowed upon their relationship and the emotional power she wielded over his career. Noticeably, the film is ‘Mrs Lowry and Son,’ not ‘Lowry and Mother’ – the film wants us to know Lowry would not be Lowry without his mother.
The film boasted powerhouse performances from legends Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall, both of whom attended the premiere. They appeared humble and grateful others were there to appreciate their beautiful film.
Spall was perfect as Lowry. He quietly channelled a number of emotions and suppressed the heartache and anger he felt towards his cold, critical mother until the end of the film, when it all came pouring out…
Redgrave lived up to her reputation as ‘the greatest living actress of our times’. For those unaware of her stellar success, she has won the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, BAFTA, Olivier, Cannes, Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild awards. Her performance as Lowry’s bed-ridden mother, bitter about her downward social-mobility and critical of her son’s art, was superb. She managed to garner pity, anger, sympathy and laughter from the audience.
This film might not be as successful as your average Redgrave film, but Redgrave is nothing if not daring. In the 1970s, she joined a far-left political party, expressed support for (and created a documentary about) the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and criticised ‘Zionist hoodlums’ when accepting her Oscar. So, Redgrave agreeing to this film probably means she believes in it, and that is reason enough to at least watch it…
One of the most powerful scenes was towards the end, where Lowry was sort-of in one of his paintings. People came gushing onto the street before suddenly freezing. Lowry walked through the crowd before encountering a man who had made sporadic appearances throughout the film: his father. Whilst his overbearing mother had an obvious influence over him, so did the memory of his deceased father. The filmmakers highlighted this through the use of flashbacks and (sort-of) placing him in his son’s painting.
After the film, there was an ‘in conversation’ with Redgrave, Spall and director Adrian Noble. Timothy was funny and insightful. Redgrave was sassy, witty and sardonic, at one point bluntly asking the interviewer “what do you want me to say?” and another time savagely telling him, “that’s what I said.” The interview was an experience, for sure…
Mrs Lowry & Son is a must-see for art-lovers. It was poetic to host the gala premiere of a movie about Lowry at the theatre named after him in the area where he lived. The film displayed a humble man who grafted and struggled, but when the house lights went up and we remembered where we were, we were reminded that that struggle wasn’t for nothing… Though, given this was a modest man who turned down a knighthood, would he really be pleased with all of this renown?