Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Daring in its affirmation that a dowdy woman in her late 60s still can let go of her inhibitions and exhibit a lascivious side.
  2. Reviewed by: M. E. Russell
    100
    Powerful, subtle, quietly terrifying film about the consequences of a widow's stab at a May-December romance.
  3. Reviewed by: Melissa Levine
    100
    The first exceptional drama of 2004, The Mother feels like life itself, sharpened to its finest points.
  4. 100
    Every element of The Mother, directed by Roger Michell and written by Hanif Kureishi, fits together with perfection. The film's staging -- the way its settings create a world that allows for striking images that echo the psychological interplay of its people, the way in which every performance could not be any better -- is awe-inspiring.
  5. 90
    Harsh, unsparing, unsentimental, and uniformly well-acted, The Mother bravely and intelligently tackles subject matter widely ignored in cinema--the sexuality of a plain-looking woman edging toward the twilight of a life of quiet desperation.
  6. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    90
    It's a remarkable film--one to gnaw at you and keep you up at night.
  7. 88
    The Mother peers so fearlessly into the dark needs of human nature that you almost wish it would look away. It's very disturbing.
  8. 88
    You feel terribly sad and angry at May's foolishness. Yet with so many emotions at hand, The Mother never fails to engage.
  9. The screenplay bluntly faces anxieties of aging that are rarely voiced in the movies, and it is too hard-headed to offer comfy palliatives.
  10. This film holds and convinces, even evokes empathy, because of Anne Reid, an actress long experienced in British television and film. She gives May intelligence and spirit and a somewhat genteel wonder at the resurging of desire.
  11. Self-absorption is the vice of all these characters. That, not sex, is their sin--and Michell, Kureishi and their fine cast show this with a lucidity that cuts to the bone, a candor that draws blood.
  12. Turns out to be a thoughtful, beautifully acted story about feeling alive before it's too late to feel anything.
  13. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    In reality, it's messy in the way that life is, and with a rare and welcome obstreperousness.
  14. Reviewed by: Jennie Punter
    75
    The complications of its story are found in the deep complexities of emotions and family relationships.
  15. Director Roger Michell (''Notting Hill'') conveys some of the sharpest insights into the woman buried beneath the wife and mother in those early scenes, using ragged, vérité-style camera work that takes merciless inventory of a certain stripe of posh, hard-edged modern family life in which dowdy grannies are invisible.
  16. 70
    By turns expansive and astringent, The Mother is a portrait of a woman who, with the dazed courage of someone finally awakened to the world after decades of passivity and repression, keeps on walking.
  17. Finally, we have found ourselves in a movie where the characters are free to blunder, even if it means turning their backs on us. There's powerful liberation in that, all around.
  18. You may not enjoy The Mother (I certainly didn't), but it's a movie so heavy on truth, its spell cannot be denied.
  19. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    70
    Although this shares some of the acidity of Thatcher-era films, it owes more to David Lean's "Summertime" in its generosity toward an aging heroine who learns that any second chance is fraught with risk.
  20. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    60
    The film is marvelously acted all around, and the fact that there isn't a false note in the entire film is especially impressive given Kureishi's melodramatic contrivances and the fact that his characters are clichés whose behaviors are predictable at nearly every turn.
  21. There is in The Mother a rich understanding of where old age takes you. Along with the myth that seniors don't have sex drives, the film dispels a larger one: that the years bring wisdom.
  22. 50
    A promising film that is dragged down by the weight of its gray morbidity.
  23. A certain inevitability hangs over The Mother – as if any of this could end well – but if Kureishi's framework is perhaps predictable, his knotty, complex characters are not.
  24. There's not a vaguely sympathetic character in sight; Kureishi ultimately seems prudishly disapproving of his heroine's last gasp of sexual adventure; and what another writer might have found liberating and healing, he finds distasteful and destructive.
  25. 50
    The Mother winds up unpersuasive, in large part due to writer Hanif Kureishi, who visits on all his mopey characters such calculated savagery, it's hard to care much for them or to get onboard for the hope implied in the hastily stitched-on ending.
  26. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    50
    A portrait of a contempo British family drifting apart because of generational differences, The Mother ends up an uneasy brew of too many competing tastes and themes.

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