Mo Review: Mo Julie, Mo Better

January 30, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

5Mo300MO: Sunday 31st January, Channel 4, 9pm ALERT ME

I’m pretty sure that no matter what the role is, Julie Walters can play it. She loves a challenge and that’s exactly what she got when she signed up to play prominent political figure Mo Mowlam.

Mowlam died in 2005 and recently there has been some speculation about whether or not she misled former PM Tony Blair about the severity of her brain tumour and the treatment for said tumour.

Having said that, it’s probably best that you leave any and all questions or preconceptions at the door and just revel in this fantastic production about a fascinating woman.

The story kicks off when Mo is diagnosed with an astrocytoma (a grade 3 brain tumour) as the Labour party are poised to take office in 1997. As the Secretary for Northern Ireland, Mowlam has a lot on her plate, but this story tells of how Mo took on the tumour and the challenge of bringing peace to a troubled country at the same time.

With her health always a problem, not to mention the side effects of her treatment, Mo’s resolve only strengthens as she is constantly being schemed against by the villainous Peter Mandelson (Steven Mackintosh) and by the mostly unseen Tony Blair.

With support from MP Adam Ingram (Gary Lewis) and husband John (David Haig), Mo faces every challenge life and politics can throw at her, but at what cost?

Walters is truly mesmerising as Mo, complete with partially shaven head to create the look of Mo after her hair loss. Her ferocity and foul mouthed passion comes from a real place that makes you forget that it’s Julie underneath those baggy clothes. This is surely an award-winning performance.

Haig and Lewis do a wonderful job but seem to fall into Walters shadow as she dominates every frame, which is a shame because they are the pillars that lend strength to the film, yet there was room for more like them.

The direction is beautiful; roughly chopped and handheld flourishes give it an unpolished, honest feel which of course many will note reflects who Mo really was. The script is dead on with Mo’s particular brand of vulgar humour and utterly heartbreaking; at the screening there were audible gasps towards the end, you’ll know what I mean when you see it.

Mo will easily stand up to the pressure of being based on a real person and will hopefully earn Julie Walters her sixth BAFTA win.