Another Mother's Son – movie review

by Peter Calder / 27 October, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Another Mother's Son

A wartime drama with all the zing of an episode of Coro Street.

The Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey were the only parts of Britain occupied by the Germans in World War II. Britons not born there were deported to Germany and thousands of prisoners, mainly Russian, imported as slave labour.

Some of the islanders sheltered escaped prisoners and the story of one, Louisa Gould, is the raw material of this reverent but rather clunky feature, based on a script by Gould’s grand-niece.

Gould (played with Julie Andrews-level sincerity by Jenny Seagrove) was a widowed shopkeeper, still reeling from the loss of her son in the Mediterranean, when, in the summer of 1942, she took in Feodor Burriy (Julian Kostov).

It gives little away to say that things did not end well, though more attention is paid here to the divisions within the community, where informers curried favour with the occupiers: the prime suspects are a couple of clucking spinster sisters who seem to have wandered in off the set of a Dickens adaptation. Thus Gould, who is supposed to have said, “I have to do something to help another mother’s son”, is the pivot in a pedestrian drama about the clash between the warring urges of self-preservation and humanity.

It’s not the newest idea, and the script has all the zing of an episode of Coronation Street. Starting out with a few hundredweight of expository dialogue, in which characters explain to each other stuff that they would already know, so we can be brought up to speed, the film settles into an episodic rhythm designed to illustrate aspects of the story (rations were short; Germans were brutal; some girls did), without ever finding a dramatic arc.

The handsome exterior scenes (it’s shot in Somerset and Cornwall) provide some relief from cabin fever for Burriy and  Gould, as well as us. It may seem odd that they keep rambling through landscape littered with checkpoints, but the movie can do with the excitement.

There are upper lips stiff enough to break a stick of Brighton rock, and the tweed and knitwear are marvellous. But this one’s too innocuous to be engaging.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★1/2

This article was first published in the October 21, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

How you can help crack the insect code at Te Papa
101529 2019-01-23 00:00:00Z Science

How you can help crack the insect code at Te Papa

by Sam Button

Te Papa is on a mission to decipher the secret life of insects.

Read more
Bill Ralston says goodbye to Auckland
101333 2019-01-23 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Bill Ralston says goodbye to Auckland

by Bill Ralston

Our columnist finally turns his back on the congested, costly city of his birth.

Read more
Decision to force woman to pay likely abuser will have 'chilling effect'
101496 2019-01-22 11:12:54Z Crime

Decision to force woman to pay likely abuser will…

by RNZ

The lawyer of a woman ordered to pay $28,000 to her likely abuser has urged the justice minister to intervene.

Read more
7 traits that show how unsuited Trump is to the White House
101194 2019-01-22 00:00:00Z World

7 traits that show how unsuited Trump is to the Wh…

by Paul Thomas

Instead of striving to be disciplined, dedicated and presidential, Trump is flitting between seven characters that have no place in the White House.

Read more
Why vitamin D production is slower in old age
101151 2019-01-22 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Why vitamin D production is slower in old age

by Jennifer Bowden

Getting our quota of vitamin D becomes more important – but more difficult – as we age.

Read more
Why ethical eating often stops at the restaurant door
101520 2019-01-22 00:00:00Z Food

Why ethical eating often stops at the restaurant d…

by Rachel A. Ankeny and Heather Bray

Can a chef promote foraging, seasonality and plant-based eating, yet also serve meat and other animal-derived protein products on the same menu?

Read more
Why the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery is bound to attract the curious
101463 2019-01-22 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Why the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery is bound…

by Ellen Rykers

Artist Bruce Mahalski's museum is the result of a lifetime of collecting.

Read more
Gillette ad isn't anti-men, it's anti-toxic masculinity – it should be welcomed
101480 2019-01-21 16:59:29Z Social issues

Gillette ad isn't anti-men, it's anti-toxic mascul…

by Nicola Bishop

The backlash against the Gillette ad shows how painfully little distance we as a society have covered since the #MeToo movement.

Read more