Mum’s List (12A)
Verdict: Overdone weepie
Verdict: A quiet gem
Kate Greene succumbed to breast cancer in 2010, but not before she had left assorted “life” tips for her husband St John, known as Singe, many of which were intended to be passed on to their two young sons, Reef and Finn.
Some of them helped her to feel that even after her death, she would still be involved in their upbringing. She wanted them to learn musical instruments, and not to smoke. Others were designed to keep her spirit alive, so that the boys, just four and five at the time of her passing, would grow up knowing something of her fancies and foibles. She liked Orange Club biscuits, for example.
All this, Singe turned into a successful book and here, inevitably, is Mum’s List the film, written and directed by Niall Johnson. I very much wanted to like it, to be moved by it, and no doubt plenty of people will sob and snuffle all the way through.
Mum’s List stars Rafe Spall and Emilia Fox in the real-life tale based on Singe Greene’s book about his late wife Kate
Certainly, Emilia Fox and Rafe Spall give it their considerable all as the adult Kate and Singe (we are also, quite unnecessarily, repeatedly whisked back in time to see them as lovestruck teenagers). Unfortunately, Spall’s all is slightly too much. His determinedly naturalistic acting style, mirrored in Johnson’s jerky camerawork, is overplayed.
So, alas, is the film as a whole. Even before the opening credits it is tugging on the heartstrings as if Quasimodo were at the other end, and the fierce pressure on the tear ducts never lets up, which is why I found myself resisting. Subtler direction and acting could have packed much more of an emotional punch.
A word, though, for the two young brothers, William and Matthew Stagg, who play the boys. They are both terrific.
Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is about another ordinary couple, but unlike the Greenes, hardly anything happens to them at all. The film is about the poetry of everyday life, and the weirdest thing about it might be that it stars an actor called Driver, playing a driver called Paterson, in a town called Paterson.
Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, starring Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani) is about another ordinary couple, but unlike the Greenes, hardly anything happens to them at all
Paterson (Adam Driver) drives buses. He is married to the sweet, simple Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). He eavesdrops on his passengers and writes poems. She learns the guitar and makes cupcakes. They have an English bulldog, Marvin (a scene-stealing performance by a bulldog actually called Nellie).
We see Paterson wake up every day – Groundhog Day without the comedy. Then he goes to the same bar every evening – Cheers without the comedy. Sharing a week of his life doesn’t sound like a recipe for much of a movie, but in fact, once you realise that not a lot is going to happen, it’s rather lovely to sit back and bask in its enormous, slightly melancholy charm.
Also, fabulous as Nellie the bulldog is, the performances of Farahani and in particular Driver are just as cherishable. Jarmusch has made a quiet little gem of a film.