Warning! If there is one thing Mum’s List will do is tug hard on those heartstrings and keep on tugging until you’re completely exhausted. A true story based on the novel by St. John Greene about his struggles with his young family and memories of losing his wife and soul mate to cancer.
Directed and adapted for the big screen by Niall Johnson – the man who brought us Keeping Mum starring Maggie Smith and Rowan Atkinson and White Noise – the film opens with St. John, or Singe (Rafe Spall) as he is affectionately known, arriving at the school gates of his two young sons greeting them both with two kisses as requested by Kate (Emilia Fox), just one of the requests she leaves on her Mum’s List to do after her death. Just for that extra sentimental touch, each request is blazoned on the screen.
Flicking between three pivotal moments in their life, travelling back in time to their teenage years when they first met when Singe was a supervisor at the local roller disco and Kate just a punter, there budding friendship blossoming into love and making plans for their future. These memories are triggered by the little notes and pictures conveniently left in places by Kate that Singe would find.
The second concentrates on the time of Kate learning she has cancer and her battle to beat it just like their eldest son did, even though scared and suffering she remains strong adding reminders into Singe’s phone when to give their son his medicine and preparing for the worst. This is all rammed home by Kate’s lone piece to camera, sat at the beach listing out the things to do in an extremely emotional sequence which won’t fail to break your heart even if we are already familiar with the list through various other means popping up throughout. The third looks at the aftermath directly after her death, Singe suffering but he remains strong for his boys, ever the very British man hardly shedding a tear but with deep felt heartbreak written all over his face.
Whilst telling a powerful and important story this film is aimed at one specific type of audience, now I’m not going to say it’s a chick flick but it’s certainly aimed at those more in touch with their emotional side. There hardly comes a moment when you don’t feel that choking sensation as the events and fallout smack you, with an open palm around the face leaving you reaching for the tissues and sniveling with the best of them.
Even with a stellar performance both from Rafe Spall, – who completely steals the film with a touchingly moving superb performance – and Emilia Fox who convincingly plays a dying women who is adamant her sons feel loved and wants everything in place to make sure none of her family forget her after her death, can’t stop the cheesy feel with the relentlessness of the emotional pull it so heavily relies and the constant tinkling of piano keys in its soundtrack.
Mum’s List hits cinema’s November 25th.