Australian Council on Children and the Media

Mrs Lowry & Son

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Short takes

Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 15; (Domestic abuse)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mrs Lowry & Son
  • a review of Mrs Lowry & Son completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 December 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to scenes of domestic abuse.
Children aged 13–15 Parental guidance recommended due to scenes of domestic abuse. May lack interest for younger viewers.
Children over the age of 15 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Mrs Lowry & Son
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and nudity
Length 91 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in Lancashire in the 1930’s, Mrs Lowry & Son tells the story of the relationship between the famous artist L.S. Lowry (Timothy Spall) and his Mother, Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave). Elizabeth Lowry came from a middle-class family and had a comfortable upbringing. However, her husband didn’t live up to her expectations and, due to financial difficulties, the family had to move into a working-class area, which Elizabeth hated. Her husband died, leaving her and her son Lawrence in debt, which made Elizabeth an embittered and tragic person. Consequently, she completely controlled her son and constantly put him down. This left Laurence as a man with little self-confidence.

Laurence worked as a rent collector to look after his mother, who became an invalid in older age and bed-ridden. He devoted his life to trying to make his mother happy, including painting pictures for her, which she never liked, and he never succeeded in pleasing her. L.S. Lowry’s paintings are renowned for their simplistic style and today are worth millions of dollars but his life was obviously a sad one.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Mother and son relationships; domestic abuse.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Elizabeth often yells at Laurie, belittling him and putting him down. She tells him ‘he’s no artist’ and that he has no purpose in life. She also tells him that she doesn’t like to look at him and that she never wanted a child.
  • Elizabeth says to Laurie, ‘What woman would ever want you?’
  • A drunken man is seen on the street provoking a dog with a stick.
  • Elizabeth’s neighbour is a woman called Mrs Stanhope who is in a similar situation to herself. She is often seen verbally arguing with her husband. One time she smashes everything off the mantelpiece.
  • Elizabeth tells Laurie she’s never liked any of his paintings, which upsets him greatly. He goes into his attic and starts slashing his paintings with a knife.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

  • Nothing of additional concern.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • Nothing of additional concern.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing of additional concern.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children in this age group might be disturbed by the level of control that Elizabeth has over her son and the cruel manner in which she treats him.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A man is seen in the nude in a tin bathtub. He gets up out of the bath and is shown naked from behind.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • There is some drinking and smoking.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Bloody”

In a nutshell

Mrs Lowry & Son is a biographical drama about the relationship of the artist L.S. Lowry and his mother Elizabeth in her later years. The acting is superb and the story is very well told with some flashbacks to Laurie’s childhood but mainly set during his late forties. The film is quite intense and tragic and is therefore not suitable for children under the age of 13. Parental guidance is recommended for 13-15 year olds.

The main messages from this movie are to overcome criticism and negativity with kindness and perseverance and to continue to follow your own creativity.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Resilience
  • Perseverance
  • Creativity
  • Kindness.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Why Elizabeth Lowry was so nasty to her son. She obviously felt let down by her husband and seemed to take out her own disappointments on her son. Fortunately, Lowry persevered in his career despite her negativity and achieved what he did.

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