I knew nothing of the true story that inspired this WWII drama and I doubt I’ll remember much of it a month from now after seeing this by-the-numbers ode to Louisa Gould. A Channel Island resident during the German occupation, the real-life Gould received honours for hiding a Russian Prisoner of War named Burriy (she named him ‘Bill’ because Russian is hard). It’s a story of bravery and bonding that’s worthy of a film, but Another Mother’s Son doesn’t do enough to express this story’s worth.
The production as a whole doesn’t do much to feel cinematic. The sets and costuming are era-appropriate, but director Christopher Menaul’s no-frills approach usually boils down to ‘point cameras at actors’. This is fine for ‘90s telly; it feels somewhat cheap for 2017 cinema.
At least Jenny Seagrove is on form as Gould, juggling bouts of grief and compassion that fuel her decision to aid this POW in need. Julian Kostov plays off her well as Bill, but aside from showing gratitude towards Gould or shoulder-trembling fear of German soldiers, the script doesn’t give him much more to work with. That goes double for the thinly-written side-roles – including an otherwise delightfully decent Ronan Keating.
Another Mother’s Son would still make for a passable tale if it weren’t for the mishandled ways the film creates tension. I like to think the real Gould was a smart woman, because the film Gould makes constantly bad decisions at Bill’s expense – none being more egregious than a Christmas carol request. If you ask the Russian stowaway to sing a Russian song at the top of his lungs, you don’t get to act surprised when patrolling German soldiers knock on the door and ask “We heard loud Russian singing – are you housing a Russian man?”