We certainly aren’t alone in thinking how extraordinary Alice Birch’s adaptation of Normal People was. Luckily for us she’s back already, having written a script for a film full of “clandestine passion” and as saucy as Connell’s chain.
Mothering Sunday might have passed us by for 2020, but Birch will bring the day onto the big screen, hopefully in the next few years. Mothering Sunday is adapted from Graham Swift’s novel of the same title, and will tell the story of Jane, a young maid, and her 7-year-long affair with Paul Sheringham, her engaged aristocratic neighbour.
“On an unseasonably warm spring day in 1924, twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild, a maid at an English country house, meets with her secret lover, the young heir of a neighbouring estate.”Synopsis
It should be noted, however, that the story is deeper than a “quick shag before lunch.” The book includes flashbacks of Jane’s past as she ‘finds herself’, detailing her progression from abandoned orphan to strong independent woman. It is a rags to riches fairytale, with a feminist twist.
The film will include an all-star cast with Jane played by Odessa Young (from Shirley fame) and Paul played by The Crown‘s Josh O’Connor. O’Connor’s The Crown co-star, Olivia Colman, will play Mrs Niven, and Colin Firth will play her husband. Firth, of course, is known for his roles in The King’s Speech, Bridget Jones’s Diary and every other film since the 90s. Will Firth have a Mamma Mia moment in a solo song? We hope so, but that’s up in the air as well. Personally, we’d like a rendition of “Our Last Summer”, although we’re not completely sure how that would fit into the 1924 atmosphere.
It’ll also be interesting to see the chemistry between Firth and Colman since their previous roles together:
Director Eva Husson describes the script as “a culmination of all that I am obsessed with in life: writing, sensuality, and pure cinema”. She goes on to say she “finished the script in tears […] because it cracked me open like the most honest works do.” Husson’s previous projects include Girls of the Sun and Those for Whom It’s Always Complicated. The former was nominated for the iconic Palme d’Or award, so hopefully it’s a taste of the high quality to expect from this next film.
Whilst the cast are already household names, screenwriter Alice Birch is surely set to join that list. Her work on Lady Maceth (2017) won the British Independent Film Award for Best Screenplay, whilst her adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People for the BBC has made the series somewhat of a phenomenon during lockdown.
Mothering Sunday has been optioned by Film4, and is due to be developed with Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley from Number 9 films. It’ll be the second collaboration between the two companies, after 2015’s Carol was acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, receiving 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Unfortunately we have a while to wait, with filming beginning in autumn this year. So as we ease out of Lockdown, we recommend rewatching Normal People on BBC iPlayer, and The Crown on Netflix… and maybe a Colin Firth movie marathon too.