Mike Leigh again shows a depth of characterisation in his movies that surpasses even the most revered of directors. "Life is Sweet" can make you laugh out loud at times, but underneath it all is this incredible blackness. These are three-dimensional characters. You feel they have a past and a future, you can see their quirks and foibles, and they are not glossed over. At times this is demanding viewing, these people are meant to irritate you... but people do in real life. So though it's not exactly escapist, some may unfairly conclude it doesn't entertain, but it still makes for compulsive viewing. You believe in these people, you want to them to sort themselves out. They are hopeless sometimes, yet underneath have such sensitivity, and it's not often a director can pull out such complexities as well as Mike Leigh can. This is a film that is in turns very funny, occasionally grating, emotionally charged, irritating and fascinating. When a film can provoke such a variety of emotions in its viewers, then it is definitely onto a good thing.