Mothering Sunday | Eva Husson Talks About The Healthy Presentation Of Nudity [Exclusive Interview]

Odessa Young as Jane Fairchild, Josh O’Connor as Paul Sheringham in MOTHERING SUNDAY | Image by Jamie D. Ramsay (SASC). Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Another one of Graham Swift’s novels comes to film, Mothering Sunday with the direction of Eva Husson

The Synopsis 

On a warm spring day in 1924, house maid and foundling Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young, “The Professor”) finds herself alone on Mother’s Day. Her employers, Mr. and Mrs. Niven (Colin Firth, “A Single Man” and Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”), are out and she has the rare chance to spend quality time with her secret lover. Paul (Josh O’Connor, “God’s Own Country”) is the boy from the manor house nearby, Jane’s long-term love despite the fact that he’s engaged to be married to another woman, a childhood friend and daughter of his parents’ friends. But events that neither can foresee will change the course of Jane’s life forever.

The French writer, director and actress Eva Husson won recognition with her short films in international film festivals. She is known for Hope To Die, Those for Whom: It’s Always Complicated, Bang Gang: A Modern Love Story and Girls Of The Sun. Husson directed the first three episodes of Amazon’s second season of Hanna

MOTHERING SUNDAY
Odessa Young as Jane Fairchild, Josh O’Connor as Paul Sheringham, Emma D’Arcy as Emma Hobday in MOTHERING SUNDAY.

I had the opportunity to speak with this bright filmmaker, Eva Husson with the upcoming release of Mothering Sunday. She opened up about getting this project at the almost perfect time as she experienced a loss and was able to relate. Husson also discussed some of the scenes she was touched by and those that were a real challenge to put together due to uncontrolled circumstances and more…

Nancy Tapia: Can you tell me about what made you want to be a part of this film as director?

Eva Husson: It’s just one of the things where when this group ended on my lap, it just felt very personal and I felt very connected to it as an artist and as a woman. Just trying to create stuff, and as a human being, because I had suffered some personal loss at the time. So they just addressed quite a few things.

Nancy Tapia: This is based on a Graham Swift novel. What was a scene that you looked forward to directing?

Eva Husson: Well, there was this one scene that really convinced me to make the film, which was when she walks around naked in the house and presents herself naked in front of the library. She’s in front of this wall of books written by white male authors in the course of two millennia. And this idea of white patriarchy being faced by a woman was kind of delightful. The political statement of just the power of a naked body, the naked body of a woman. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was looking forward to this. I’m very happy we managed to keep it in the film.

MOTHERING SUNDAY
Eva Husson (Director) and Odessa Young on the set of MOTHERING SUNDAY.

Nancy Tapia: That’s one of the things I wanted to ask you, because you also have several scenes where you have this character carrying on conversations while in the comfort of nudity. What do you think was the message or the delivery for that?

Eva Husson: Oh, I think it’s about intimacy. It’s about the fact that nudity is not necessarily about the male gaze, and the kinkiness, the centrality to the sexuality side of things. It’s part of the process and sexuality is part of intimacy, but that’s what it is. It’s part of intimacy and it’s part of what we are as human beings. I think if you think back on your own life, the ability that one has to be naked with somebody and talk about very intimate stuff as a testament to the depth of the relationship. I think that’s something that a lot of men and women experience in real life, but rarely see portrayed on screen.

 I think the representation that we have of nudity is extremely affected by the heightened version of the male gaze. By that pornography and the rape culture, and all those scenes in films where women barely want, but at the end of the day then no means yes. Which I think has done a lot of damage to people’s real lives. So yeah, I think it’s very healthy to explore that representation of nudity.

MOTHERING SUNDAY
Eva Husson (Director) and Colin Firth on the set of MOTHERING SUNDAY.

Nancy Tapia: Very classy by the way, very well done. Being a director would you say you’re an occupational observer of life?

Eva Husson: I guess so. I guess it’s definitely something that has helped me find my place in society. It’s just one of the things where a little bit like Jane (Odessa Young) in the film. I have to find a prison, like an angle to relate to real life, otherwise maybe it would be just too intense or it’d be too many stimuli for me. And that way I can sort of make sense of chaos and order it and sort of convey it to other people, which is exactly what a film is. 

A film is like a miracle. When you think of it, it’s thousands and thousands of hours coming from a lot of people just gathering towards that one goal, which is the final film. Even though we discourse right now, it’s just crazy. It’s a lot of people behind the screens, just getting together to talk about that. And that’s part of what the film is also. It’s quite a play field to be able to have a character who does exactly what you do as you are telling the story of that character. It’s very meta in a way, but it’s very interesting.

MOTHERING SUNDAY.
Odessa Young as Jane Fairchild, Colin Firth as Mr Godfrey Niven in MOTHERING SUNDAY.

Nancy Tapia: I’m wondering who actually had to do casting, because it’s an unbelievable cast.

Eva Husson: Well, the casting director is called Michael Cochran. Who’s a fantastic casting director. And we’re just sitting down and coming up with names and my role in this moment, it’s just like you should never refrain yourself from just having the widest ideas because you never know, people might say yes [chuckles].The worst that can happen is people saying, no, that’s literally the worst that can happen. Even if they say yes and they replace later on, it doesn’t matter. There’s just something quite powerful in this process that was very enjoyable.

Nancy Tapia: When it came to Jane, what were you looking for in particular?

Eva Husson: I was looking at something that I see a lot in real life and I rarely see portraying on the screen at least, it has been rare historically. It’s a female character that’s very centered, not neurotic, not overly emotional, but just sure of her own emotions, vulnerable, but also capable of being strong. You rarely see that balance. A lot of times when we are just all over the place or neurotic or too much, or people resent them. I just love the fact that she’s rough, but she’s embraced by people around her. I think that’s also an experience that we have in life, just people embracing us. I certainly feel that I belong to that category of women that just try to not deny themselves both ends of the spectrum. And I barely see them represented on screen. I think it’s important.

MOTHERING SUNDAY
Odessa Young as Jane Fairchild in MOTHERING SUNDAY.

Nancy Tapia: Can we talk about the scene out by the lake where you have everyone sitting and waiting.

Eva Husson: Yeah, I think on day two of the shoot, which was a nightmare for me. Because I met some of my cast that day and it was a big setup. The crew was not together yet, the British weather was not cooperating, it was supposed to be very sunny. I studied in Los Angeles, so for me a sunny day is a very simple thing on a script. And I had to face the biggest challenge of my career. Filming a sunny day in England is practically impossible.

And it just came to the point where it just became harder to do that than shooting a war film in Georgia. My previous film was a war film. It was a walk in the park, compared to trying to maintain sun in England. We had incredible wind. You see this one shot where Colin Firth’s hair is slightly moving, and somehow we managed throughout the rest to just make it completely disappear. But my heart was sinking, the cinematographers’ job was super hard. You would have lights falling [laugh] . It was just really hard and it was just impressive, it’s just all these amazing actors and these emotions. It’s just not an easy day.

MOTHERING SUNDAY
Emma D’Arcy as Emma Hobday in MOTHERING SUNDAY.

Nancy Tapia: It was a lovely scene, one of my favorite scenes. Another favorite was the one with Olivia Colman and Odessa Young when they’re having that one-on-one conversation. When Colman is telling Young’s character how fortunate she is.

Eva Husson: Yeah, it sounds actually harsh and atrocious when she says it, because here you have a woman who’s led a very privileged life of an upper class, white woman in the beginning of the century in England. And she tells this orphan who is a working class, who’s had no mother “You’re the luckiest person on earth, because you’ve been completely derived at birth.” And I love the shock and the counterintuitive of this.

MOTHERING SUNDAY
Olivia Colman as Mrs Clarrie Niven and Odessa Young as Jane Fairchild in MOTHERING SUNDAY

Because if you really think about it, what could be construed as an extreme problem in somebody’s life is also a gift to her as an artist. Because if you’re free of any emotional entanglement and the fear of losing people around you, then you are just free to create and to go as far as you can. At the same time, understand that whatever loss you may suffer, you have to use it to nourish your own creations. I think that’s how she digests it because of course, Mrs. Nevin (Olivia Colman) doesn’t know the tragedy that just happened for Jane (Odessa Young) as well. But she sort of frames the tragedy in a way that she makes it a gift for Jane, which probably should not have happened otherwise.

Nancy Tapia: I loved it! I actually rewind it because the words were harsh. But interesting to see it in an unexpected perspective that most would not see.

Eva Husson: Yeah. I just really love that because at first, when I first read that scene I just remember thinking she sounds like such a horrible person when she says it. It’s so obnoxious in a way. At the same time, the second you remember she’s lost her two sons to the war, she’s sort of earned the right to say it. She knows what loss is. She knows what tragedy is and her life is sort of a testament to the fact that in life, at the end of the day, no matter how easy or privileged your life has been, if you suffer through an unfathomable emotional loss, your life is a tragedy and is ruined. 

Material comfort doesn’t really matter that much when you lose the people you love. And that wraps her in dignity also, Mrs. Nevin. I think that makes her character, because its not just this privileged obscene white woman who will just not understand the cost of tragedy otherwise.

Nancy Tapia: Well, thank you so much for your time. I took a lot from that scene, that no matter how bad and disastrous a situation is, there has to be a positive perspective.

Eva Husson: Yeah, completely that’s what I love about this story. Its wonderful. Bueno, gracias [chukles].

Nancy Tapia: De nada. Haha…Bye bye.

Mothering Sunday is available in theaters March 25, 2022.

Source: LRMExclusive, Sony Pictures Classics

 

 

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Nancy Tapia

Nancy Tapia has been an interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review Media since 2011. Currently a member of the Hollywood Critics Association. Former UCLA Bruin specializes in Management. Covering entertainment has been an unexpected lively journey. Always open to the next, new experience. From solo traveling to adding a new peak to her personal 100 Hike Challenge. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @inancytapia

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