Divided opinions, I see. Today, I watched episode 1., just to see what it was like. Two hours later, I’d exhausted catch-up, and am bereft. There has never been a TV character, (same name!) who is ME, before. She is me, and she is all my middle-aged, single, female friends with grown-up children. She’s much nicer, and more patient than me, but that is my life, I swear. Apart from the patient, strong, devoted admirer, alas. There are criticisms above of the characters of Kelly and Pauline. I couldn’t disagree more. Those women aren’t just flawed and a bit annoying, like most of us in real life, they have a back-story that is rather tragic, and beautifully played. Beautifully. My middle son has an ex who is Kelly. The ex is a Ph.D student, but the life and chat and mannerisms are the same as Kelly’s. Even the face, figure and hair are almost identical, but I can’t credit casting with that!
OH, how I enjoyed it. Along with the laughs, I suddenly burst into tears at Kelly’s mum’s behaviour, and Kelly’s reaction. That struck a chord. Have bossed my Facebook friends into watching MUM at the soonest opportunity. I congratulate everyone involved. Thank You.
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I loved Him & Her, and going into Mum I had no clue it was the same writer/creator, but you can feel it when you watch, almost as if the two are related in some way.
The pacing is excellent and the characters are so wonderfully realised. Casting is top notch and Kelly is equally one of the most endearing and irritating characters I’ve ever watched.
So surprised by how much I enjoyed this show, everything about it was enjoyable, including the soundtrack. S2E6 just made me cry and cheer, out loud, like a freakin’ crazy person. you have to give props to a show that balances bitter/sweet so well.
Watch this. You won’t regret it.
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Guaranteed to make you cry four times every episode, the final series of the Lesley Manville sitcom miraculously turns tiny gestures into epic romance
By Jack Seale
Mum is a comedy that can be agony. When it first wiped its feet, hung up its anorak and shuffled politely on to BBC Two in 2016, at times it was perhaps too painfully funny. For a season and a half, Mum was very very good, and Lesley Manville was flawless as Cathy, a recent widow bedevilled in her nice Essex semi by her insensitive relatives. It was, however, tiptoeing awfully close to a couple of traps that can snare cringe-coms.
First, the “main character is nice, everyone else is a grotesque fool” format was a little too stark, as we wondered how the saintly Cathy could withstand a torrent of micro-aggressions from her unbelievably selfish son Jason, his incredibly stupid girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrillis), Cathy’s outrageously crass brother Derek (Ross Boatman) and his catastrophically snooty partner Pauline (Dorothy Atkinson). Meanwhile, the forbidden connection between Cathy and her late husband’s best pal Michael (Peter Mullan) progressed by nanometres per episode, as he repeatedly stared at her benignly instead of announcing that he’d always loved her. “Character has every opportunity to say The Thing, but never does” is another sadcom trope that risks turning sympathy into frustration: just bloody say it, we almost screamed.
Having taken us right to the limit, though, writer – and since season two, director – Stefan Golaszewski was able to bring us back. Just when the supporting characters’ infernal suburban prattle about cars, holidays and whether rice can be eaten with stew stopped distracting us and we reached breaking point, there was an emotional pay-off to make it all worthwhile. Near the end of season two, Cathy putting down her washing basket to hug Michael, or the pair slyly holding hands during a fireworks display, were tiny gestures made huge by the journey we had taken to get there – and by the craft of Golaszewski, Manville and Mullan, who have the chops to turn glances, silences and desultory chats about getting to the tip before it closes into epic romance.
In the new, third and final season – bingeable in full on iPlayer – Golaszewski shows he has known exactly what he has been doing all along. The whole clan decamps to a Kent mansion on holiday, with episodes covering consecutive days rather than taking place weeks apart as previously, to celebrate Derek’s birthday. Cathy and Michael have admitted their love to each other, but not to anyone else. In this pressured new environment, those moments of release arrive harder and faster. Before now, Mum probably made you cry once a year. Prepare for that to become three or four times an episode.
Mullan and Manville remain magnificent: he has a speech in the fifth episode to rank with the greatest romcom soliloquys, and just the way he looks at her with his happily creased eyes will put sunshine in your heart for a month. But the miracle Golaszewski performs here is in humanising his small army of monsters, giving characters who were once cartoons a heartbreaking inner life that previous seasons only hinted at. It is hard to pick an outstanding member of the ensemble: maybe it’s Boatman as simple-soul Derek, whose pathetic jokes and clumsily planned spontaneity hide an insecurity that makes him willing to accept humiliation from Pauline. Maybe it is Atkinson as Pauline, who reveals the vicious sadness that lies inside any sharp-elbowed snob; she has worked with both Mike Leigh and Victoria Wood, two poles of influence that visibly pull on Golaszewski’s scripts. At its best, Mum equals them both.
The hardest job is handed to Sam Swainsbury as Jason, who is so lazy, thick and unobservant that he has always been borderline problematic. In these new episodes, his fear of Michael usurping his late father manifests in the sort of hostility that Mum would usually have skirted around. It’s another fine line that the show barely walks back from, but – whether or not it’s plausible or redemptive – Jason is the core of what the show is really about. As well as its myriad observations about family members who didn’t choose each other; and who annoy and impede each other in a hundred unintended ways each day; and who have an inkling of what they should do to make things better but aren’t always brave or articulate enough to overcome their limitations; as well as all that, season three of Mum completes a portrait of a gang united by grief. They are terrible because they’re missing a son, a friend, a husband or, in Jason’s case, a dad.
It has been worth all the pain to work these people out. Mum might have looked like it was just a sitcom, but it had something beautiful to say about love and loss. It’s said it.
The Bafta nominee has been discovered by Hollywood after 47 years as an actor. She talks about ageism, losing her anonymity and spa trips with her Mum co-stars
Lesley Manville was at the bus stop the other day when the comedian Simon Amstell spotted her and came up for a chat. He wanted to know what she was doing there. Manville affects bewilderment. “I said: ‘Well, why? I’m going to get the bus.’ He said: ‘I don’t imagine you getting the bus.’” He could see her on a bus, but not actually waiting for it, perhaps because she seems both grounded and grand. “I said: ‘I love a bus. I don’t want my life to be about taking taxis.’”
But buses are becoming trickier for Manville. It’s not just the “oomska oomska oomska” of tinny music emitted by other people’s headphones, which “irritates the fuck out of her” and is turning the public space into a private entertainment zone and spoiling the opportunity for earwigging. She can also hear her fellow passengers whispering: “It’s her off Mum! It’s her off Mum!”
The BBC Two sitcom was nominated in four categories at the TV Baftas on Sunday, one of which was Manville for female performance in a comedy, while Mum is about to return for its third and final series. No wonder Manville’s quietly devastating performance as Cathy, a recently widowed mother of one who is falling in love with her late husband’s best friend, is making it hard for her to pass unnoticed. Many bus rides are now spent clocking the furtive glances and wondering whether she will have to get off before her stop.
“I’m clinging on to it,” she says – the “it” being the bus, but also the anonymity she has avidly protected during a 47-year career across stage, TV and film that has won her a reputation not as a glittering national treasure, but as “a stalwart”.
The days of this reputation are numbered. Last year, she was nominated for an Oscar for her potently austere portrayal of Cyril Woodcock, the sister of Daniel Day-Lewis’s Reynolds in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread. We meet in the ballroom of the Langham hotel in London as she is preparing to fly to Canada to shoot Let Him Go with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. Hollywood has discovered her, while the acclaim for Mum and Phantom Thread, on the heels of an Olivier award for Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts in 2014, have turned her into a sort of poster girl for the older female actor. Continue reading →
Lesley Manville is surprised when I tell her that her character in Phantom Thread, Cyril, became a queer Internet icon this year, the subject of fan fiction in which she runs off with Daniel Day-Lewis’s love interest, Alma. “Listen, I’ll take it. But no, I don’t follow anything like that. So there’s this whole other world going on that I know not of.”Yes, Manville speaks in such poetic turns of phrase, and it even makes some sense, given that she eschews, as she says, both the Internet and social media. When I apologize for being tired after working my first Met Gala during our conversation last week, she says that when she sees the pictures every year, “I can’t help but think of all the money that it costs that those people have spent on those clothes.” Later, she jokes, “I’ll never get an invite now, will I?
”You wouldn’t guess that we’re supposed to be talking about, on the surface, one of her most anodyne roles, as Cathy in the BAFTA-winning British sitcom Mum, about a very typical English middle-class woman turning 60, and confronting a new phase of life after the death of her husband. But Manville, as in all of her roles, including Cyril, and as the muse of U.K. director Mike Leigh (in whose 2010 film Another Year she stunned as drunk divorcée Mary), has a history of subverting the “good mum” stereotype. Even while clad in her best Marks & Spencer florals, Manville brings a wryness to Cathy, a role in which she says, “In its ordinariness there is a subversiveness . . . You may look at somebody who outwardly seems quite level, and plain, and straightforward . . . But you see that twinkle in her.”
Cathy is caught in a will-they-or-won’t-they tangle with friend Michael, played by Peter Mullan (of Westworld and Ozark); the romance is what Manville says made season two of Mum so popular in the U.K. (It has just been made available in the U.S. on Mother’s Day on Britbox, ITV, and the BBC’s American streaming service.) And Manville’s real-life former marriage to actor Gary Oldman, with whom she was up for an Academy Award at the Oscars this year, proved to be gossip fodder in the press, as well as more fuel for Manville/Cyril fans, who see the actor and the character as champions for single ladies everywhere (Manville is currently unmarried).
During our conversation, Manville gave very demure, very British answers to questions on her relationship with her famous ex, the #MeToo movement, and whether or not Cyril would have attended fashion’s night out (answer: as a stylist), and talked bringing a bit of badness to Mum. An excerpt from that conversation, below:
There is a rash of shows and books at the moment about mothers as antiheroes, you know, mothers who smoke and drink, mothers who have sex lives. Mum feels almost subversive because it’s not trying to do that. It’s very traditional.
Making Cathy a real, whole person is my job. I have to make her believable. It’s interesting that in its ordinariness there is a subversiveness; there is a subversive feeling about it. I think that’s because if you met her in the supermarket, you’d just think, Oh, she’s this very ordinary woman, but of course, nobody’s ordinary. We’re all exceptional. And you may look at somebody who outwardly seems quite level, and plain, and straightforward, but of course, she’s got the most gorgeous sense of humor herself, which is why she is able to absorb all of the stuff around her and kind of just keep it to herself. And she’s not judging anybody. She’s not making them feel bad about themselves, she’s being supportive, but you see that twinkle in her
And what’s great is that the only person that she can sometimes share that twinkle with is Peter Mullan’s character, Michael. The audience thinks, Oh, come on, you two. You’ve got to get together because you’d have such a great time. You’d laugh so much. All of my friends have been going, “Oh, I can’t bear it. I can’t wait to see what happens.” It just gets so good. Peter Mullan, just, oh my goodness. You keep watching it because he will tear you apart. That’s why, even though season one was successful in England, season two has just gone through the roof, and it’s been the most enormous and surprising hit, and narratives about this middle-aged couple falling in love, but it’s so human and touching [ . . . ]