Mum’s List (2016)
There have been many films made about a young parent dying from an incurable disease, and having to leave a spouse and children behind. Some are powerfully dramatic, others mawkishly sentimental. This British film is neither of those. It is simply excellent.
Based on the true story of a woman named Kate Greene, writer and director Niall Johnson has assembled a superb cast and dealt with the upsetting theme in a way that anyone can relate to. Diagnosed with incurable breast cancer that has spread to her bones, Kate realises that she will be leaving her childhood sweetheart and two young boys much earlier than she ever expected to. She compiles a list of things that they should always do, not only to remember her, but to stay together as a family and be able to move on with their lives after her death.
Emilia Fox is outstanding as Kate, ably supported by Rafe Spall (son of Timothy Spall) as the grief-stricken husband trying to come to terms with the devastating news. From the moment Kate receives the diagnosis, to the scenes showing the family doing the things from the list after her death, everything is completely believable, and delivered with in the most realistic and unsensational way possible. The supporting cast playing family, friends, and the two young sons are all up to the job too, leaving us with a picture of a family tragedy that also gives hope to those left behind.
This is a film that leaves you wrung-out emotionally, as you invest so heavily in the characters despite knowing the outcome, and that there will be no magic cure or good news at the end. Only the heardest-hearted viewers could fail to be deeply moved by the rollercoaster of emotions you feel watching this.
It is just a superb piece of film-making.
(British readers can see this on the BBC i-player. It was shown on BBC2)