5.2/10
454
13 user 27 critic

Cotton Mary (1999)

R | | Drama | 17 December 1999 (UK)
A British family is trapped between culture, tradition, and the colonial sins of the past.

Directors:

Ismail Merchant, Madhur Jaffrey (co-director)

Writer:

Alexandra Viets

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Greta Scacchi ... Lily MacIntosh
Madhur Jaffrey ... Cotton Mary
James Wilby ... John MacIntosh
Sarah Badel Sarah Badel ... Mrs Evans
Riju Bajaj Riju Bajaj ... Mugs
Gerson Da Cunha Gerson Da Cunha ... Doctor Correa
Joanna David ... Mrs Smythe
Neena Gupta ... Blossom (Mary's sister)
Sakina Jaffrey ... Rosie
Gemma Jones ... Mrs Freda Davids
Firdausi Jussawalla Firdausi Jussawalla ... Mr. Panamal
Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal ... Matron
Nadira ... Mattie
Prayag Raj Prayag Raj ... Abraham (as Prayag Raaj)
Captain Raju ... Inspector Ramiji Raj
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Storyline

1954, the Malabar Coast. British and Anglo-Indian identities blur when an English-woman with a neglectful husband births a sickly baby. Cotton Mary, a hospital aide and moralizing Anglophile who claims her father was a British officer, takes over the infant's care and, without a word to the mother, takes the baby daily to her sister to nurse. Mary moves into the English household, taking over more and more duties as she plays on the mother's fatigue and lack of spousal counsel: in effect, Mary colonizes the English household while she pilfers its stores and tells tall tales to her own family. For how long can Mary sustain her rule before the Englishwoman stands on her own feet? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France | UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 December 1999 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A házvezetőnő See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Cochin, Kerala, India See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,680, 19 March 2000

Gross USA:

$299,432

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$299,432
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

As Theresa is walking along with the procession she passes an Indian boy in the crowd who waves at the camera. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the theatrical version, the scene when Rosie (Sakina Jaffrey) and John (James Wilby) have sex and are caught by Mary (Madhur Jaffrey) at 1:43, Rosie is nude. In a version shown on the Sundance Channel, Rosie is wearing a slip during the entire scene. See more »

Connections

Features Aar-Paar (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

That's Amore
Written by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks
courtesy of Music Sales Corporation (ASCAP)
Four Jays Music Publishing Co.
Leosong Copyright Service Ltd
BMG Entertainment International
Famous Music Publishing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sensitive look at complexity of British colonialism
1 July 2000 | by klimaSee all my reviews

A sensitive look at the difficulties faced by a woman in colonial India, during the period when nationalism was starting to set in. The story opens with an India-born Englishwoman who goes into labour, is taken to the hospital, and gives birth to a sickly child. When it turns out that her milk doesn't come in, a nurse with mixed British/Indian heritage takes pity on her, finds a wet nurse, moves into her house, and begins to manipulate the situation to her own advantage.

As the story progresses, the husband's infidelity and disassociation is presented, as is the blindness of the wife, and the racist superiority of the expatriate British community. The Englishwoman's preteen daughter turns out to be the voice of reason who opens the woman's eyes to the situation as it is.

This is a slow-paced visually interesting story that focuses a great deal of attention on nurturing and nursing, and the complexity of a materially richer culture clashing and feeding on a materially poorer one.


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