Slow-burning British drama explores loss; frequent nudity.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mothering Sunday is a British romantic drama that lingers, slowly, on the notion of grief and has a number of sex scenes and full-frontal nudity. Adapted from a book by Graham Swift, the story centers on the affair between house maid Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young) and the well-to-do, soon-to-be-wed Paul Sheringham (Josh O'Connor). Set in between World Wars, the futility of conflict and the pain it inflicts on families is explored. But from that comes displays of resilience and perseverance, even in the hardest of circumstances. Jane and Paul are flawed and complex characters. Despite indulging in an illicit affair, their love is pure, defying class limitations prevalent to the time period. They are seen having sex, though such scenes are not hugely graphic. Blood is seen on bedsheets after one occasion. However, both female and male full-frontal nudity is frequent. There is no violence as such. But there is a scene with a burning vehicle soon after it crashes, with a character seen at the wheel. There are occasional uses of the word "f--k" and characters are seen drinking alcohol, and smoking throughout, the latter being reflective of the time period.
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What's the Story?
MOTHERING SUNDAY tells the story of house maid Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young) who is having an affair with the affluent, soon-to-be-wed Paul Sheringham (Josh O'Connor). Set between the devastation of the two World Wars, the couple's love remains unwavering, though both Jane and Paul know their prohibited relationship cannot last forever.
Is It Any Good?
This British romantic drama boasts some excellent performances but certainly requires patience from its viewers. But even then Mothering Sunday doesn't necessarily reward those that persevere with it. While its themes around class and forbidden relationships -- all set to the backdrop of the period between WWI and WWII -- should engage, its pace is lingering, particularly when it comes to the notion of grief.
Visually striking and beautifully shot, the acting is faultless. A highlight comes in the form of Colin Firth. His supporting turn as Godfrey Niven -- head of the household where central character Jane is the maid -- is especially impactful. But overall the film lacks a certain spark. It's not that audiences need big moments of drama or contrived, theatrical set-pieces. It's just that this story feels like it's somewhat one-note, in a constant wait to fully kick into a gear that sadly, never arrives.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how romance and sex was portrayed in Mothering Sunday. Was Jane and Paul's relationship respectful? What about the nude scenes? Was it sensitively done? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Grief is a key theme in the movie. How did different characters deal with death? Have you experienced the loss of a loved one? What did you find helped you come to terms with it? Movies to help kids deal with grief.
A number of characters are shown smoking in the film. How have attitudes toward smoking changed from when the movie is set to today? What are the dangers of smoking?
The film is set to the backdrop of the two World Wars. What impact did these two events have on the story? How to talk to kids about violence, crime, and war.
- In theaters: March 25, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: June 28, 2022
- Cast: Josh O'Connor, Odessa Young, Colin Firth
- Director: Eva Husson
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Book Characters, History
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, graphic nudity and some language
- Last updated: September 4, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Romantic drama on the challenges of conception; sex scenes.
Stellar literary adaptation too mature for kids.
Sense and Sensibility
A lush and witty adaptation of Jane Austen's novel.
For kids who love emotional dramas
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