Mrs Lowry and Son Review

The Lowry, Salford – 27 August 2019

Reviewed by Joseph Everton


Within the theatre bearing the Lowry name, the gala premiere of Mrs Lowry and Son took place last night, telling the story of a simple man, a man who paints and who is controlled by his bedridden mother.

Mrs Lowry, played beautifully by Vanessa Redgrave, does not mourn the death of her late husband, but the business failures that led to the loss of her middle-class existence in the well-to-do Victoria Park. From her bedroom in Pendlebury, a symbol of her fall from grace, she abuses her son’s devotion and desire to please her, stifling his creativity and ambition for recognition with disdain for his work.

Her treatment of her son constitutes abuse, but Martyn Hesford’s script paints Mrs Lowry as more troubled than monstrous. At times, she is wickedly spiteful, but there are moments of warmth, with both characters seeming wholly dependent on the other for their happiness.

The complexities of the relationship on which the film centres are portrayed with an understated quality by both Redgrave and Spall. However, at times, Spall’s portrayal of Lowry does seem overly meek. Between their scenes, we follow a less obsequious Lowry around industrial landscapes which could be a gallery of his work, with narration explaining his affection for his home and the people within it.

Much like an exhibit in a museum, the film is a well-crafted window into Lowry’s life and, although lacking the substance to have you on the edge of your seat, a suitable testament to the life and work one of Lancashire’s most famous sons.