Mothering begins how it means to go on… remarkably unremarkable. It opens with a foster-mother, Helen (Angela McHale), introducing a young girl, Mia (Sapphire Paine), to her new home. Understandably shy, Mia’s initial steps into the unfamiliar surroundings are small and tentative. Her uncertainty reminds one of Bambi on ice. Mia is soon introduced to Pauline (Ursula Jones), Helen’s elderly mother. It doesn’t take long for Pauline to radiate warmth and affection towards Mia.
At dinner time, Helen and Pauline’s kindness and tenderness helps to coax Mia out of her shell. However, that night, Mia’s growing confidence is stunted when she wakes up in pain and finds blood in her underwear. It’s her first period. But Mia is unaware of the normality of it all and instead spends hours confused and looking for answers. Luckily, Pauline is soon at hand to ease Mia’s worries and put a smile back on her face.
It take a remarkable filmmaker to take something universal and familiar and make it incredibly personal and intimate. Lucy Bridger is a filmmaker of that calibre. With a featherlight touch, she has woven together a story of real warmth and tenderness. While other filmmakers would be tempted to veer heavily into melodrama or pathos, Bridger shows restraint and allows Mothering to breath and blossom at its own pace. Authenticity is the lifeblood of this film.
Aesthetically, Mothering could easily be mistaken for a documentary. The camerawork is distant and unobtrusive as if conscious of Mia’s fragility. While the subtle grain of the colouring lends the film a sense of immediacy and rawness. In terms of sound, Bridger dispenses with music altogether, and Mothering is all the better for it. Music would have weighed heavily and stifled the subtly Bridger so effortlessly cultivates. Instead, the silence gives extra weight to every word uttered.
In life, it is often the small and in between moments that end up having the biggest impacts. Unfortunately, in a world of spectacle and shrinking attention spans, the small is often ignored or it goes unseen. But Bridger’s urgent and much needed filmmaking acts like a forensic lens focusing the viewer’s attention on what is so easily missed. The world needs more films like Mothering and talents like Lucy Bridger.
You can watch the film on Short of the Week here
While Lucy Bridger’s website can be found here