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Cotton Mary (1999)

R  |   |  Drama  |  17 December 1999 (UK)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 425 users   Metascore: 52/100
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A British family is trapped between culture, tradition, and the colonial sins of the past.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lily MacIntosh
Cotton Mary
John MacIntosh
Sarah Badel ...
Mrs Evans
Riju Bajaj ...
Gerson Da Cunha ...
Doctor Correa
Mrs Smythe
Neena Gupta ...
Blossom (Mary's sister)
Mrs Freda Davids
Firdausi Jussawalla ...
Mr. Panamal
Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal ...
Nadira ...
Prayag Raj ...
Abraham (as Prayag Raaj)
Captain Raju ...
Inspector Ramiji Raj


1954, the Malabar Coast. British and Anglo-Indian identities blur when an English-woman with a neglectful husband births a sickly baby. Cotton Mary, a hospital aide and moralizing Anglophile who claims her father was a British officer, takes over the infant's care and, without a word to the mother, takes the baby daily to her sister to nurse. Mary moves into the English household, taking over more and more duties as she plays on the mother's fatigue and lack of spousal counsel: in effect, Mary colonizes the English household while she pilfers its stores and tells tall tales to her own family. For how long can Mary sustain her rule before the Englishwoman stands on her own feet? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »


Official Sites:


| |


Release Date:

17 December 1999 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A házvezetőnő  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$24,680 (USA) (17 March 2000)


ESP 2,994,150 (Spain) (29 June 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As Theresa is walking along with the procession she passes an Indian boy in the crowd who waves at the camera. See more »


Features Aar-Paar (1954) See more »


Aar Paar
(from Guru Dutt films Aar-Paar (1954))
Performed by Geeta Dutt
Composed by O.P. Nayyar
Lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri
See more »

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User Reviews

Masters Of Mood ...
31 October 2004 | by (amsterdam) – See all my reviews

Thank Goodness Merchant and Ivory share some stuff.

They are both masters of creating an intoxicating atmosphere ! The scenery of their movies are always breathtakingly beautiful. 'Cotton Mary' is no exception.

And Ismael Merchant lured a leading lady into his picture that is even more gorgeous than all the scenery of the Merchant-Ivory films (in which she has shined so often) combined. Besides that, Greta Scacchi is an astonishing actress, and so she is again in this film. So fragile yet so present, what an enormous accomplishment !! Her performance alone deserves a (re)viewing of this film.

The other principal actors give us very nice portrayals too.


Somehow Merchant does not seem to be able to capture the excitement his partner Ivory finds so easily. Somehow this beautiful picture with good performances and a stunning Scacchi refuses to really fly after taking off nicely.

The film is not as bad as some would like you to believe, far from it. Imagery and acting and the technical side of filming, together with the beautiful scenery, will make 'Cotton Mary' an agreable pastime for 2 hours.

But surely it could have been so much more with all the talent and beauty assembled ? It was nice, where it could have been great. If the characters would have been given a bit more depth, this would have been a stunning film, instead of the nice one it is now...

9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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