Mothering Sunday director Eva Husson doesn’t believe in making her actors perfect the exact accent of the time period their film is set in.
Though the English romantic drama, out in theaters today, takes place in 1924 in Berkshire, Husson, who is a European herself, wasn’t concerned about nailing the way that real citizens of 1920s Berkshire would have spoken — nor does she believe that’s a realistic goal, considering that no one involved in the making of the movie was alive 100 years ago.
“I don’t like when films pretend that they have any idea of the actual accident of the time,” Husson told MovieMaker.
“Also, I think it’s distracting. I think once you just come to terms with the fact that you’re a product of your decade or generation anyway, it will sound different and it’s okay.”
However, that doesn’t mean she didn’t do her homework about the time period.
“Everything was carefully researched at every level and every step of the way,” she said.
And it shows. The film’s costumes were designed by the iconic Sandy Powell, who has been nominated for the Oscar for best costume design no less than 15 times (she won for Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator, and The Young Victoria). The gorgeous interiors of the Sheringham home, including an absolutely spell-binding library that would delight any lover of the dark-academia aesthetic (and which Young’s character thoroughly explores while alone there one afternoon), are thanks to production design was done by Helen Scott (Wuthering Heights, A Very English Scandal) and the set decoration by Hannah Spice (A Very English Scandal, Small Axe). Art direction was done by Adam Marshall (Small Axe, A Very English Scandal), Solomon Honey (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, The Secret Garden), and Louise Lannen (Rebecca, The King).
Based on Graham Swift’s 2016 novel of the same name, Mothering Sunday follows Odessa Young as Jane Fairchild, a maid who has a secret, six-year affair with the wealthy Paul Sheringham (Josh O’Connor). It also features Colin Firth and Olivia Colman as Mr. and Mrs. Niven, who own the house where Jane works.
“I’m very proud of it. I feel we’ve worked incredibly hard in a very challenging context, and I think we made the most of it and I knew there were many ways it could have gone wrong,” Husson said. “Every film is no miracle. So to have people reacting, especially the young audience — it’s really important for me that people in their 20s seem to be reacting a lot, too, because I think there’s a feeling of loss of meaning around the world and what are we going to do with our lives. It just really speaks to them, which I think is fantastic.”
Mothering Sunday is now in theaters.
Main Image: Odessa Young as Jane Fairchild, Emma D’Arcy as Emma Hobday, Josh O’Connor as Paul Sheringham, Colin Firth as Mr. Godfrey Niven in Mothering Sunday. Photo by Robert Viglasky. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.