In a poor working class London home Penny's love for her partner, taxi-driver Phil, has run dry, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they and their local community are brought together, and they rediscover their love.
Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
Just north of London live Wendy, Andy, and their twenty-something twins, Natalie and Nicola. Wendy clerks in a shop, leads aerobics at a primary school, jokes like a vaudevillian, agrees to waitress at a friend's new restaurant and dotes on Andy, a cook who forever puts off home remodeling projects, and with a drunken friend, buys a broken down lunch wagon. Natalie, with short neat hair and a snappy, droll manner, is a plumber; she has a holiday planned in America, but little else. Last is Nicola, odd man out: a snarl, big glasses, cigarette, mussed hair, jittery fingers, bulimic, jobless, and unhappy. How they interact and play out family conflict and love is the film's subject.Written by
David Thewlis was disappointed at being given such a small role, so Mike Leigh promised him that the next time he considered Thewlis for a role in a film, "he'd be given a fair slice of the pie." Thewlis would be cast as the lead in Leigh's next film Naked (1993), and win an award for his performance. See more »
Stop being antagonistic.
I'm not being antagonistic. I'm trying to have an intelligent conversation with you. Are you capable of that? Eh? I don't think you are, are you? Really. Bit vacant, aint ya? Bit of an air-head. Nothing going on. Bit dumb. Bit dizzy. Dimbo, bimbo. Dumb blondster, ain't ya? Eh, hello. Anyone at home? Hello? Hello? You're a fake.
I am intelligent.
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I often fantasise about directing a movie (yes, I know I'm sad!), and I would like to think that my movies would come out like Mike Leigh's: affectionate without being sentimental, funny without crossing over into out-and-out comedy, realistic without being bleak or depressing.
This portrayal of an "ordinary" English family is everything a film ought to be. Great acting - Alison Steadman in particular - her character's relentless optimism and cheerfulness interspersed with knowing when a situation needs to be treated more seriously; Jim Broadbent as the day-dreaming father and Jane Horrocks as the anorexic Nicola. All the characters are beautifully drawn, including the minor characters (Timothy Spall as doomed chef Aubrey, Stephen Rea as dodgy-dealer Patsy, David Thewlis as Nicola's unnamed lover).
Some typical Leigh scenes include the excellently framed shot of the burger-van in the scrapyard (which could almost be a painting!), and the panning shot along the back of the row of houses (implying that similar dramas are unfolding in everyone's lives).
Not much actually happens, but that's part of the point - it takes in themes of happiness, hopes and dreams, friendship and family ties. Clearly a precursor to "Secrets And Lies", this is a simpler, purer film, but with the same message of ultimate optimism.
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