Review: ‘Mrs. Wilson’

John Thomas
Ruth Wilson, Otto Farrant, and Calam Lynch in Mrs Wilson.

They meet during WWII at the MI6 Secret Intelligence Service in London. Alexander Wilson (Ian Glen), translates messages in Arabic into a recording device. Alison Wilson (Ruth Wilson), transcribes these recordings onto paper for distribution. He sends one recording reading: “Let’s meet for lunch at one.” Thus begins their 22 year romance which includes marriage and the birth of two sons. After the war he retires and begins a new career as a fiction writer. Their happy life together ends one afternoon when Alec suffers a fatal heart attack.

While deciding on funeral arrangements, someone knocks at Allison’s front door. The woman standing at the door identifies herself as Gladys Wilson, Alec’s wife, mother of his son and now his widow. This surreal turn of events prompts Alison to investigate her past life with Alec. The most logical place to begin is to talk with his former boss, Coleman (Fiona Shaw). The meeting with Coleman is not terribly productive. Between endless puffs of cigarette smoke, Coleman answers few questions. Alec’s activities were classified secret and are protected. She claims that as an undercover agent, Alec was required to tell lies, have various identities and fabricate stories. In closing, she gives Alison a piece of advice– stop further investigations which could be detrimental to her and her sons’ lives.

Not at all satisfied, Alison plans her next visit. This time it’s to Anupam Karim (Shahbaz Karim), Alec’s handler for the time he worked (spied) in India. Karim recounts the wonderful work Alec performed and the many lives he saved while there. He inadvertently mentions that he had introduced Alec to his soon-to-be “wife,” Dorothy (Keeley Hawes), an actress performing in India. After going to great lengths, Alison finally finds Dorothy and knocks on her front door. Dorothy mentions having a son whom she wishes to protect from a scandal involving his late father. There is really no need for further discussion as she attempts to move Alison towards the door.

Alison now realizes that she and the other two Mrs. Wilsons have similar goals – to survive and protect their sons from discovering their father’s true identity. Over the twenty-odd years they have been able to do so, but with the sons now adults, the mothers must struggle even harder–or give in and reveal what they know about him.

Walking home from yet more meetings with Coleman and Karim, Alison feels she should just forgive her late husband for all his transgressions and put her issues with him to rest and get on with her life. Almost to her front door, she notices a young boy with his bicycle standing across the street from her home, watching it. She goes over and asks him if he is okay–is anything wrong? The boy replies he is fine, just waiting for his mother to arrive. She is a nurse at the hospital where his father is a surgeon and they haven’t seen him or gotten support checks from him in a long time. He says, “my mother is Mrs. Wilson.”

Mrs. Wilson is directed by Richard Laxton (Credits: Effie Gray, Burton and Taylor). It is a “must see” peek into a real-life story of adventure and intrigue.


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