FAMILY DYSFUNTION: Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall play mother and son in this drama about one of Britain’s most loved artists.

Mrs Lowry & Son

  • Biographic drama; Cert PG, contains nudity; 1hr 31mins
  • Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Spall, Stephen Lord, Wendy Margan, David Schaal, John Alan Roberts and Joanne Pearce
  • Director: Adrian Noble

THIS biopic of English artist Laurence Stephen Lowry will satisfy both lovers of his art and those who appreciate good drama.

Based on the stage play of the same name, it brings together two actors at the top of their game in a story that explores the relationship between Lowry and his mother.

Having previously played the lead role in Mr Turner, Timothy Spall seems to be the go-to guy for artistic old duffers. He plays Lowry with a gentle sensitivity that he seems so well suited to.

Unlike Mr Turner, he doesn’t spend a lot of time painting in this film. He is too busy undergoing the verbal assaults of his overbearing, neurotic and bedridden mother.

The majority of scenes take place in her upstairs bedroom, which can become somewhat claustrophobic. So much so that on the occasions when Spall stretches his legs to wander the industrial mill town of Pendlebury, it comes as something of a relief.

Pendlebury is depicted very much according to Lowry’s paintings, which were famous for finding the beauty in working class urban landscapes.

Filmed largely around the greater Manchester area, the streets, factories, workers and surrounding countryside are cinematically gorgeous, bringing his work to life.

Vanessa Redgrave does most of the heavy lifting in this film as Lowry’s mother Elizabeth, an irritable, demanding class-obsessed woman, who detests her son’s paintings due to their working class subject matter.

Her constant deriding of her son is returned only by kindness and love – though privately I find the apparent saintliness of Spall’s Lowry hard to believe.

Sadly, he never got to rub his fame in her face as his paintings’ popularity came shortly after her death.

8/10

diane.mccarthy@thebeacon.co.nz