We all agree life is not easy, and fate can come along to disrupt any seemingly normal life. Nicholas Connor’s Cotton Wool sheds light on the reality that in England and Wales today, 243,000 home carers of adults are under the age of 19, and over 22,000 are under the age of 9. These are statistics to us, but a reality to those who live it.
Businesswoman and single mother Rachel (Leanne Best) is raising her two children on her own. Jennifer (Katherine Quinn) is your typical teen, annoyed by her mother’s constant nagging, and 7-year-old Sam (Max Vento) is absolutely devoted to his mother. After a pre-school argument with Jenny, Rachel suffers a stroke in front of Sam. Rachel survives but is now on the long path to recovery with Jenny and Sam as her forced companions.
With mom unable to care for herself, it’s up to Jenny and Sam to take charge and responsibility for their mother and the household. Unfortunately, the rallying cry for mom falls on deaf ears, as Jenny is always sneaking off to hang with her friends, leaving the seven-year-old to care of mother alone.
Cotton Wool is a heartbreaking message about the struggle young carers face when tragedy strikes. It also gives a glimpse into the care and recovery process for victims of strokes.
“Rachel survives but is now on the long path to recovery with Jenny and Sam as her forced companions.”
First, I should point out the obvious. Message movies, like Cotton Wool, tend to come off as a narrative checklist on an issue. It’s common and, at times, annoying because of how blatant it can appear (see Ordinary Love). Checklisting occurs when a story seems to forcefully insert obvious talking points about an issue into a narrative. Although the point is vital to the subject, it feels less organic to the overall story. Now everything negative happens to the protagonists. It’s often necessary to do in awareness films, and it’s a challenge not to make it look obvious.
Cotton Wool has an important message because it brings to the surface an issue that many of us don’t think about (including me). A significant number of children are forced into becoming adults way too early in life, and ironically they become parents to their parents. Jenny’s “annoyance” with mom’s condition is a cry of unfairness as she is asked to stay home more often than be with her friends. Sam, on the other hand, is not mature enough to be a parent, nor make parent decisions, and places an undue burden upon himself to keep mom alive. Lastly, where has charity and service gone in our society, or should we wait for Congress to pass a law.
Cotton Wool does a thorough job presenting its issue. It raises awareness. It’s informative, and you will be empathetic to this one of many families affected by strokes. As Rachel, Leanne Best painstaking physicality is incredible and all-too-real. Katherine Quinn brings a good dose of redemption to frustrated Jennifer. Whether the story applies to you or not, it’s definitely worth watching.
"…It raises awareness. It’s informative, and you will be empathetic…"