Grief, suffering and loss are three of the most powerful emotional triggers in cinema. There have been many films tackling the subject of terminal illness over the years. However, it’s a subject which, for obvious reasons, can get mired in melodrama. Where it’s done well, for instance Love Story, Biutiful, The Bucket List or A Monster Calls, it can be incredibly touching. Niall Johnson’s Mum’s List focusses on life after loss.

When Kate (Emilia Fox) is diagnosed with incurable breast cancer, she is determined to leave a legacy for her husband Singe (Rafe Spall) and their two sons. Over the last few months of her life Kate writes a list of thoughts, instructions and memories in order to support her husband after she’s gone. Now all alone, Singe is struggling to cope. He manages to take strength and solace in Kate’s list as he tries to move forward with his life.

Based on the best-selling book by St John Greene, Mum’s List is a heart-warming and affecting tale of love, loss, grief and hope. Spall is excellent as a man all at sea; struggling to cope with bringing up two boys on his own whilst trying to move on with his life. It does at times fly very close to melodrama and can become a trifle cloying. However, it’s an astutely pitched film, both in terms of tone and the performances delivered. Mum’s List is a heart-warming tearjerker which focuses on those left behind when a loved one dies.

Mum’s List is released on DVD by Studio Soho on Monday.