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TIFF: Mothering Sunday

Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young) is motherless on Mothering Sunday (a UK/Irish holiday celebrating mothers). Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Jane grew up an orphan and has spent most of her life working as a maid for the Nivens (Colin Firth and Olivia Colman). The Nivens and many of the families of the community have suffered a great loss during WWI. The only young man to come back alive was Paul Sheringham (Josh O’Connor), a law student who lives next door to the Nivens. Jane and Paul carry on a clandestine affair. Their steamy romance is fleeting because Paul must marry someone else equal to his social class. He proposes to the Emma (Emma D’Arcy), a young woman adorned in the latest fashions and from a good family but whose blood has run cold due to the tragedy that’s befallen her. Jane must come to terms with love and loss and channel that into her writing.

Directed by Eva Husson and based on the novel by Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday offers viewers a period piece that is both idyllic and cut with tragedy. It’s perfect for Downton Abbey fans looking for something a little more subdued but of the same era.

I wish Colin Firth and Olivia Colman were given more to do in the film. Due to the nature of their characters, Firth is quite reserved and Colman has a few outbursts of anger and frustration. But otherwise they’re  supporting players with small roles, Colman more so than Firth.

The main stars are O’Connor and Young who have great chemistry. Jane’s life is shown in three stages: her affair with Paul, her romance with Donald (Sope Diris), and her later years as a celebrated writer (played by Glenda Jackson).  Her two romantic partners have great respect for her. No toxic relationships here. I found this to be quite refreshing.

Mothering Sunday is part of the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival Special Presentations slate.

TIFF Review: Assassination Nation


by Raquel Stecher

Assassination Nation
dir. Sam Levinson
starring: Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, Abra, Joel McHale, Bella Thorne, Bill Skarsgard, Maude Apatow

“You had it coming, America.”

When a movie starts with a preview of trigger warnings you know you’ll be in for a wild ride. Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation was one of my most anticipated films of TIFF and it delivered on many fronts. This modern take on the Salem witch trials is dark, twisted, raunchy and violent. It follows the story of four teens as they navigate their senior year with all the peer pressure that comes with it but kicked up several notches when key members of the community get hacked. Led by Odessa Young, the four young women including Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse and Abra, the town of Salem begins to spiral out of control and they become the target of the community’s blood thirsty need for their brand of justice. On the surface this might seem like another scary movie to watch on Halloween but on a deeper level it delivers some cutting critiques about modern day society. It explores peer pressure, the sexualization of young women, toxic masculinity, privacy, doxxing, public shaming, mob mentally, misplaced righteousness and distrust of authority. And if you’re like me and shy away from horror films, this one has some violence but there is so much to enjoy from the visual imagery, costumes, lighting cinematography, typography that makes it well worth the gory scenes. I loved the female empowerment message and found myself pumping my fist in the air and cheering the protagonists on. Assassination Nation is not one to miss.

Neon releases Assassination Nation in theatres on September 21st.

I attended a special press screening of Assassination Nation at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

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