Starting with the relationship between Cynthia and Roxanne
Roxanne’s moody, cold attitude opposes Cynthia’s melodramatic soppy-ness, Roxanne seeing her mother in all her weakness and wanting to be anything but that. Here Roxanne is affected by her mother
However, in all of Roxanne’s attempts to be so different from her mother, we see Mike Leigh linking them with similar lives, Roxanne looking to follow in her mother’s footsteps
This is shown in the scene when Cynthia and Roxanne sit opposite each other at their home’s dining table. They both sit with a cigarette in their hands, inhaling as the camera flicks between them. This shows their similarities, Leigh seeming to hint that Roxanne will lead a similar life to her mother’s. We then also see Roxanne asking ‘you quiet, aint ya? What’s up?’ here we see the prying ways of Cynthia in Roxanne, thus Cynthia affecting Roxanne.
All of this clashing emotion between Cynthia and Roxanne is reflected and affects the interior of their house. The house is cluttered, Cynthia’s dead father’s possessions still in their exact positions from many years ago, flowery wallpaper clashing with lace curtains and all sorts of knickknacks occupying the shelves.
This is contrasted with Hortense. We see her pictured in her apartment, with white walls, furniture and bed clothes. This calm, serene and un-cluttered environment she seems to be surrounded with is reflective of her personality. She seems sensible and nice, someone who never gets overly excited, nor overly upset. Although she is as much Cynthia’s biological daughter as Roxanne, she has not been effected by Cynthia as a mother because she has not been around her.
After first meeting, Cynthia and Hortense have tea at a cafe together. With Hortense’s decline of Cynthia’s offer of a cigarette, we see a direct contrast between the two. It is not Hortense’s blood but her upbringing that has taught her not to smoke. However, the smoking scene shared by Cynthia and…