Walter Goodfellow, the vicar for the small English country parish of Little Wallop, has allowed his marriage to Gloria go stale, and he is so detached from his family that he has not taken notice that his 17-year-old daughter Holly is going through a succession of relationships with unsuitable boyfriends, and his son Petey fears going to school owing to being bullied. Out of desperation for affection, Gloria begins to fall for the advances of Lance, an American golf pro who is giving her "private" lessons. The problems upsetting the family start to fade away after Grace Hawkins, the new housekeeper, arrives and starts tending to matters as an older, and rather darkly mysterious version of Mary Poppins. Written by
Niall Johnson's 'Keeping Mom' is a delightful black comedy. Russo and Johnson's innovative screenplay, the pleasant score and the surprising cast and the dark humour is brilliantly put together. At the same time, the characters are very identifiable. After all, Grace is just a mother who's protecting her children, Gloria just wants her husband's affection, Walter just wants to excel in his 'profession' and Lance is a sleaze you might have met once. Yet, the story cleverly takes them to extreme ends that results in murder, infidelity and voyeurism. Pretty much all the actors are cast in roles you have never seen them play before. Kristin Scott Thomas is the heart of the film (as the director himself stated) and she performs very naturally. While Atkinson has played Reverend earlier, he actually delivers a very subtle performance where he downplays the comedy (unlike his regular in-your-face comedy sketches). He is proving to be a versatile comedian. I loved how Patrick Swayze makes fun of his iconic status in an indirect way. The actor is excellent as the jerk and it has been ages since he has been in something worthwhile. Liz Smith is fun to watch as the annoying and nosy flower committee member. Emilia Fox is very good as the nonchalant killer and Maggie Smith is hilarious! This lady has never let down and she is a complete delight to watch as she goes on 'protecting' her family. 'Love the actress! The location shots are amazing. The fictitious town looks lovely yet the director manages to successfully bring out the coldness and boredom. The stunning cinematography deserves mention too. 'Keeping Mom' is a small but wonderfully innovative film that had me laughing all the way.
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