The Mother, is a slow moving UK film from Roger Michell (Venus) that tackles aging, spousal death, family. What happens when a wife is suddenly left a widow after her entire life has been dedicated to the needy husband. May (Anne Reid), is perplexed. She senses that she is free – but free to do what? Her daughter is “fragile”, and though years younger than her mother, asks the same questions. What do I want to do? What am I good at? May admits that she was not a good “housewife”, and her daughter Paula accuses her of not being a very good mother either. In fact, she says she doesn’t really like her very much. Well, May has slept with her shiftless boyfriend after all. The boyfriend doesn’t know what he wants either. Except maybe sex with anyone at hand and willing.
Free from the constraints of a loveless marriage, May is catching up on the experiences she never had, the life she never lived. Oh, loveless may be unfair. Her husband probably did love her. But his view of the world put his wife in a lesser place, a position of, if not servitude, then certainly a position from which it was not possible to express desires, aspirations. Self-fulfillment was not possible Her daughter (Paula) is desperately seeking love and unable to find it. She takes whatever she can get. Paula eventually understands that her mother has betrayed her. When her mother tells her she’s sorry, she then asks Paula what can she do for her. “I’ll do anything” she tells her daughter. Her daughter wants only one thing – to punch her mother, which she does, right in the face. A bit shocking, that.
May works her way out of the cul-de-sac she has found herself in since her husband’s death. It’s obvious though that Paula (and her son as well) will pretty much go on as before. Is it that we learn only as the end draws near, what we’ve missed out on, and scramble to catch up? This film would seem to make you think so.