A wartime drama with all the zing of an episode of Coro Street.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - by Peter Calder AN­OTHER MOTHER’S SON di­rected by Christo­pher Me­naul

Blade Run­ner 2049, An­other Mother’s Son

The Chan­nel Is­lands of Jer­sey and Guernsey were the only parts of Bri­tain oc­cu­pied by the Ger­mans in World War II. Bri­tons not born there were de­ported to Ger­many and thou­sands of prison­ers, mainly Rus­sian, im­ported as slave labour.

Some of the is­landers shel­tered es­caped prison­ers and the story of one, Louisa Gould, is the raw ma­te­rial of this rev­er­ent but rather clunky fea­ture, based on a script by Gould’s grand-niece.

Gould (played with Julie An­drews-level sin­cer­ity by Jenny Sea­grove) was a wid­owed shop­keeper, still reel­ing from the loss of her son in the Mediter­ranean, when, in the sum­mer of 1942, she took in Feodor Bur­riy (Ju­lian Kos­tov).

It gives lit­tle away to say that things did not end well, though more ­at­ten­tion is paid here to the di­vi­sions within the ­com­mu­nity, where in­form­ers cur­ried favour with the oc­cu­piers: the prime sus­pects are a cou­ple of cluck­ing spin­ster sis­ters who seem to have wan­dered in off the set of a Dick­ens adap­ta­tion. Thus Gould, who is sup­posed to have said, “I have to do some­thing to help an­other mother’s son”, is the pivot in a ­pedes­trian drama about the clash be­tween the war­ring urges of

­self-- preser­va­tion and hu­man­ity.

It’s not the new­est idea, and the script has all the zing of an episode of Coro­na­tion Street. Start­ing out with a few hun­dred­weight of ex­pos­i­tory di­a­logue, in which char­ac­ters ex­plain to each other stuff that they would al­ready know, so we can be brought up to speed, the film set­tles into an episodic rhythm de­signed to il­lus­trate as­pects of the story (ra­tions were short; Ger­mans were bru­tal; some girls did), with­out ever find­ing a dra­matic arc.

The hand­some ex­te­rior scenes (it’s shot in Som­er­set and Corn­wall) pro­vide some re­lief from cabin fever for Bur­riy and Gould, as well as us. It may seem odd that they keep ram­bling through land­scape ­lit­tered with check­points, but the movie can do with the ex­cite­ment.

There are up­per lips stiff enough to break a stick of Brighton rock, and the tweed and knitwear are mar­vel­lous. But this one’s too in­nocu­ous to be en­gag­ing.


Jenny Sea­grove, right, as Louisa Gould in the real-life story An­other Mother’s Son: pedes­trian drama.

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