Her adoptive parents now dead, Hortense (Jean-Baptiste), a young middle-class optometrist, decides to find her natural mother. What she doesn't anticipate is that her search will lead to Cynthia (Blethyn), a sad, boozy woman saddled with an argumentative, determinedly morose road-sweeper daughter, Roxanne (Rushbrook), and lent spasmodic moral and financial support by her brother Maurice (Spall), a successful wedding-and-portrait photographer whose prissy suburban house is the obsessive delight of his wife Monica (Logan). When Hortense first phones Cynthia, she knows nothing of the family or the tensions that divide it - and is she really her daughter anyway? After all, she's black, and Cynthia's white. Even as Leigh derives gentle comedy from the plight, aspirations and often pathetic attempts at communication of Cynthia and her tribe, an immense, unforced sympathy is extended to all involved, a generosity of spirit thoroughly in keeping with the performances. Everyone's superb, Blethyn and Spall in particular. Yes, it's long, visually a little static, and rather narrowly concerned with the everyday experiences of one family, but that depth, focus and intensity of concentration result in a film of extraordinary emotional riches. Spellbinding.
Cast and crew