Toots and May's marriage is one of Toots being dependent on his wife. Shortly after Toots and May arrive in London to visit with their grown children Bobby and Paula and their respective children, Toots falls ill and dies. Toots' death brings to the surface the underlying strain that has always existed between May and both of her two children, and the unhappy lives they have all led. Now specifically with Paula, May is disapproving of her relationship with a construction worker named Darren. Not only does May think his occupation makes him beneath Paula, he's also a married man. Darren is in an unsatisfying marriage but doesn't want to leave it if only because of his son. Even after May gets to know and like Darren, she still encourages Paula to break up with him. The issue is that May herself has fallen in love with Darren, the two who begin a sexual relationship. What will ultimately happen between May and Darren also depends on Darren, who is floundering in his own life and doesn't...Written by
Filmed entirely on-location. Daytime scenes were filmed using only natural light. For nighttime scenes, the crew again used as many practicals as possible (table lamps, fixtures already at the location, et cetera) rather than rigging large lighting kits that would have required a generator (the crew did not use one). See more »
When May is telling Darren about her affair and just before she asks him to take her to bed, Darren does not have a carpenter's pencil in his ear. When we see him a few moments later, the pencil is over his ear. See more »
At the beginning of the film we watch May and Toots preparing for their trip to London for a visit to their grown children. One can see Toots is not in the best of health, but he goes along. When he dies suddenly, May's world, begins to spin out of control.
The film directed by Roger Michell, based on a screen play by Hanif Kureshi, is a study of how this mother figure comes to terms with her new status in life and her awakening into a world that she doesn't even know it existed until now.
May's life as a suburban wife was probably boring. Obviously her sexual life was next to nothing. We get to know she's had a short extra marital affair, then nothing at all. When May loses her husband she can't go back home, so instead, she stays behind minding her grandson at her daughter's home. It is in this setting that May begins lusting after young and hunky Darren, her daughter's occasional lover.
Darren awakes in May a passion she has not ever known. May responds by transforming herself in front of our eyes. May, who at the beginning of the film is dowdy, suddenly starts dressing up, becoming an interesting and attractive woman. She ends up falling heads over heels with this young man that keeps her sated with a passion she never felt before.
Having known a couple of cases similar to this story, it came as no surprise to me to watch May's reaction. Her own chance of a normal relationship with Bruce, a widower, ends up frustratingly for May, who realizes how great her sex is with Darren. The younger man, we figure, is only into this affair to satisfy himself and for a possibility of extorting money from May. Finally, the daughter, Helen discovers what Mum has been doing behind her back when she discovers the erotic paintings her mother has made.
The film is a triumph for the director. In Anne Reid, Mr. Michell has found an extraordinary actress who brings so much to the role of May. Also amazing is Daniel Craig. He knows how Darren will react to the situation. Anna Wilson Jones as Helen is also vital to the story as she is the one that has to confront the mother about what has been going on behind her back. Oliver Ford Davies plays a small part as Bruce the older man in Helen's class and is quite effective.
The film is rewarding for those that will see it with an open mind.
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