A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
"The Mother" peers so fearlessly into the dark needs of human nature that you almost wish it would look away. It's very disturbing. It begins as one of those conventional family dramas with a little love, a little sadness, and a few easy truths, but it's anything but conventional. By the end, we've seen lives that aren't working and probably can't be fixed, and we've seen sex used so many different ways it seems more a weapon than a comfort.
The film opens in the reassuring environs of British domesticity. A long-married couple travel into London to visit their children. May (Anne Reid) still has her health and the remains of her beauty, but Toots (Peter Vaughan) seems always out of breath. They arrive at the expensive new home of their son Bobby (Steven Mackintosh), go for dinner at the flat of their daughter Paula (Cathryn Bradshaw) and then Toots dies of a heart attack.
It's clear that Bobby and Paula do not much love their mother, although Paula goes through the motions; Bobby is always darting away for urgent conversations on his cell phone. May understands this, and yet when she returns home, she finds she simply cannot stay there: "I'll be like all the other old girls around here, and then I'll go into a home. I'd rather kill myself." She returns to London, is greeted coolly by Bobby and his wife, but finds a role with Paula, who needs a baby-sitter.
At Bobby's expensive house, work is underway: His best friend Darren (Daniel Craig) is building a new solarium. One night May hears Paula having sex in her living room, peers into the room and discovers that Darren is Paula's lover. This discovery causes something to shift within May, who becomes friendly with Darren, brings him breakfast and lunch on a tray, and asks him, "Would you come to the spare room with me?"