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The Mother (2004)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 88
Fresh: 68 | Rotten: 20

Reid gives a fearless, realistic performance in depicting an older woman's sexual blossoming.


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 4

Reid gives a fearless, realistic performance in depicting an older woman's sexual blossoming.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 3,046

My Rating

Movie Info

May is an ordinary grandmother from the North of England. When her husband dies on a family visit to London, she recedes into the background of her busy, metropolitan children's lives. Stuck in an unfamiliar city, far from home, May fears that she has become another invisible old lady whose life is more or less over. Until, that is, she embarks on a passionate affair with Darren, a man half her age who is renovating her son's house and sleeping with her daughter.


Drama, Romance


Hanif Kureishi

Oct 12, 2004


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (94) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (68) | Rotten (20) | DVD (10)

A troubling film about the need to be wanted.

August 26, 2004 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There is in The Mother a rich understanding of where old age takes you. Along with the myth that seniors don't have sex drives, the film dispels a larger one: that the years bring wisdom.

August 7, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It challenges you to figure out how you feel about the people on the screen -- emotionally, intellectually, morally.

July 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Mother never fails to engage.

July 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It sounds like the stuff of soap operas or bad porn, but Kureishi's script is too intelligent and empathetic to titillate.

July 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Uses the surface familiarity of its situation ... to smuggle an elegantly carved Trojan horse full of messy emotional spillover into the theatre.

July 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Isn't very exciting or involving.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

A bold, challenging performance by Anne Reid.

November 28, 2004 Full Review

...extremely well-played in individual scenes. But much of the film feels counterintuitive to the general thrust of the narrative.

October 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Experience
Film Experience

Complex characters, constrained emotions, an intelligent screenplay and a candid, audacious examination of the burgeoning sexuality of a woman in her 60s.

September 17, 2004
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This is a very solid little film that would be perfect to those of you who are beyond tired of this summer's attack of mindless entertainment.

September 17, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

...hard to watch but it as honest as it is emotionally grueling.

September 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This British drama gets increasingly lurid as it goes. And its handling of risque material is sensationalistic, even exploitative.

August 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Director Roger Michell shoots in stately poses that are artful to the point of distraction.

August 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

It's a superb character study, with veteran actress Anne Reid delivering a heartbreaking and curiously liberating performance.

August 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Anne Reid gives a special performance.

July 26, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Gets down to dramatic business, transcending age and gender considerations to make May a poster woman for the philosophy that everyone's life path is their own business to determine.

July 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

Michell's sometimes oddly cropped compositions suggest that May is seeing the world through new eyes, and finding its edges and corners for perhaps the first time.

July 9, 2004
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

The movie's look, though attractive in and of itself, is a syntax error

July 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

A marvellous tale about sex, love, age and family.

July 2, 2004
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for The Mother

I'm happy if I never have to see this again.

It's not the older woman/younger man set up, it's not the elderly nudity. No, what bothers me is that a mother could do that to her own daughter. Not to mention how Darren treated the poor old woman.

I could feel her pain and fear of becoming yet another "invisible old lady whose life is more or less over", but the way she went about fixing it just wasn't right.
March 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

a controversial film that is more than the sum of its theme. I often felt like I was outside of this film, looking in; and I believe that sense of alienation was by design.

It does an expert view of showing a woman, May, who had never really questioned her wifely duties (although, apparently didn't do that great a job of raising her daughter, who claimed she was never given the love and support she needed).
When May and her husband arrive in London to visit their children, it seems like the world is going on around them and they can only watch. When the husband dies, May refuses to live in the family home, so comes to London to live with her children. She begins to feel the freedom and the breathtaking concept that she can now do what she wants, when she wants - and ends up taking a lover with none other than James Bond (Daniel Craig), who is a carpenter working on her son's flat.

The sex scenes come across very real and poignant, especially May's confession that she felt that she might never be touched again.

The tension comes from the fact that Craig is May's daughter's lover. The daughter is a needful thing, always turning the conversation towards herself (even while saying to May, "enough about you, what about me" - yikes!) - and their struggle over Craig fills the remainder of the film (all done in subterfuge and typical Brittish upper lip).

When all the plot devices collide and May is forced (though it appears to be her choice) to return to the family digs - she walks through her son's house, much as she entered it - with their lives going on around and without her. Undeterred, she is home just long enough to pack her bags so she can take a cruise; thus getting on with her life and continuing to "become", rather than waiting to die.
December 15, 2008
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Soap-style British chick-flick that's pleasant enough background viewing until the graphic Daniel Craig on grandmother sex scene...
July 15, 2007

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic][color=darkslategray]"The Mother" starts out with a retired couple visiting their grown children in the big city, London. The visit ends on a tragic note when the father dies suddenly. At a loss at what to do next, the mother(Anne Reid) returns to London to stay with her son, first and then her daughter, who is a single mother, teacher, wannabe writer and is having sex with the dropout builder(Daniel Craig) of a conservatory for the son. She hopes the sex will turn into a relationship even though the mother has doubts. The daughter also pretty much blames the mother for everything that has gone wrong in her life...[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#2f4f4f][/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#2f4f4f]"The Mother" starts promisingly as a look into a woman who now for the first time in decades is alone and has to find a direction for her new life(thus, I was expecting a searing look into how society treats its senior citizens and maybe that is how Mike Leigh would have handled it) but it quickly devolves into a lurid soap opera as most of the attention is spent on the melodrama of a love triangle. Even worse, the film borrows from the austere landscape of Ingmar Bergman.(I'm thinking mostly "Autumn Sonata", actually.) And there is no sense as to what the family's life was like when they were all together.(In this regards, it is bested by the superior Italian film, "Everybody's Fine" starring Marcello Mastroianni.) But the acting is excellent, though. The film is overall disapointing, being based on a screenplay by Hanif Kureishi who also penned the excellent and provocative films - "My Son, The Fanatic", "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid" and "My Beautiful Laundrette."[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#2f4f4f][/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#2f4f4f]One line of dialogue has especially gotten on my nerves. The mother tells the daughter that they did not have feminism in her day. I don't know if things were different in England but "The Feminine Mystique" was published in 1963 and Gloria Steinem is 70. [/color][/font]
April 29, 2005
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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