A small-scale tale of tangled emotions drawn with so fine a brush that it makes your eyes ache, Alan Rickman's directing debut is an unabashed actors' picture, filled with big scenes and bits of business. Young widow Frances (Emma Thompson), still
grieving the death of her husband, needs nothing less than an unexpected visit from her bossy, fiercely demanding mother Elspeth (Phyllida Law, Thompson's own mother). So it goes without saying that Elspeth turns up at her door (actually, she lets herself right in) and starts up: Frances's newly
shorn hair looks dreadful, her house is cold, her kitchen is dirty, she's let herself go... "Can't you say something nice?" asks...