Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.
Martin is a fisherman without a boat, his brother Steven having re-purposed it as a tourist tripper. With their childhood home now a get-away for London money, Martin is displaced to the estate above the harbour.
LS Lowry would have been, 47 years old in 1934 when this film was set. Timothy Spall, who plays the role was 61 at the time of filming. See more »
At the end of the film it is stated that Lowry refused both an OBE and a Knighthood in 1968. This isn't quite true. He turned down an OBE in 1955, a CBE in 1961, a Knighthood in 1968, and a CH (Companion of Honour) in 1972 and 1976. He is believed to have turned down more honours than anyone else. See more »
Laurence Stephen Lowry is one of my favourite painters, so when I heard that a film about him had been released I rushed to see it. Lowry, of course, is famous for his paintings of industrial scenes; he is one of those artists who can express a deeply spiritual vision of the world by concentrating on a small geographical area with a particular meaning for him. What the Stour Valley was to Constable, the countryside around Arles to Van Gogh, Argenteuil and the Parisian suburbs to the Impressionists, his wife's native Perthshire to Millais and North London to Algernon Newton, the industrial towns of his native Lancashire were to Lowry.
The film is based upon a stage play, and with its small cast and limited number of settings is obviously a piece of "filmed theatre". Most of the action takes place in a single, very precise, location, a bedroom at 117 Station Road, Pendlebury, Lancashire. The year is 1934. Lowry is starting to win recognition, but despite his success he still works in a humble job as a rent collector and lives in a small terraced house with his elderly widowed mother Elizabeth, his father having died two years earlier.
Elizabeth Lowry is an embittered, bedridden invalid, but, surprisingly, her bitterness is caused not by the state of her health but by the failure of her ambitions, both professional and social. As a young woman she had dreams of becoming a concert pianist, but these came to nothing. She was originally from a middle-class background and still resents the fact that financial circumstances forced the family to move from the wealthy Manchester suburb of Victoria Park to the nearby industrial, predominantly working-class, town of Pendlebury, even though the move took place as long ago as 1909. I sometimes wonder how Lowry's art might have developed had the family remained in Victoria Park. Would he, for example, have become a Northern equivalent of Newton or a latter-day Atkinson Grimshaw, the Victorian artist who often took inspiration from city suburbs, especially in his home town of Leeds?
She disapproves of her son's career as an artist, particularly as most of his paintings depict industrial scenes in the surrounding area, a choice of subject-matter which she regards as "low" and "vulgar". She only shows any appreciation for him when one of his more conventionally picturesque works, showing sailing-boats on a river, is praised by a neighbour, Mrs Stanhope. (Mrs Lowry takes Mrs Stanhope's opinions seriously because the two women share similar pretensions to middle-class gentility). The film is essentially a dramatisation of Lowry's struggles to cope with the demands of his selfish, overbearing mother.
Timothy Spall may have been cast as Lowry because, after his success in Mike Leigh's "Mr Turner", someone has obviously got hold of the idea that he is a specialist in biopics about English artists. Here, however, he is too old for the part he is playing; in 1934 Lowry would still have been in his forties, whereas Spall is 62, and, in this film at least, looks older. In reality he is just about young enough to be Vanessa Redgrave's son- there are twenty years between them- but here they look more like two people from the same generation, brother and sister rather than mother and son.
If one can overlook this problem with the characters' ages, Spall and Redgrave are both very good. Elizabeth is in many ways a spiteful domestic tyrant, yet Redgrave manages to make her seem pitiable rather than detestable. The pity lies in the fact that a woman who could have given much to the world should have wasted so much time in petty, snobbish resentments and that someone who clearly had artistic sensibilities herself should have been so blind to her son's genius. Spall's Lowry is very far from the common stereotype of the artistic genius as temperamental egotist- a humble self-effacing man with no airs and graces, willing to sacrifice much for his domineering mother, but not his art.
I have never seen the original play, so do not know how it works on stage, but I do not feel it was the best starting-point for a film about Lowry's life. The film left me wanting to know so much more about Lowry- about the beginning of his career, about his discovery of local Lancashire scenes as his main subject-matter, about his father, who is only seen briefly in flashback. I even wanted to know more about Elizabeth Lowry herself, about how the beautiful and talented young woman we see in the flashback scenes ended up as the bitter old harridan of 117 Station Road. "Mr Turner" is a film with a great breadth of vision; the more restricted, claustrophobic "Mrs Lowry and Son" is not. 7/10
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