It's OK to wear high-heeled boots (by Chris_Docker)
What do we mean by British values? Role models foisted on us by the political elite. A family-values BBC. Gordon Brown talking of our respect for justice and fair play seems at odds with his political agenda - seen by some as increasingly encroaching on basic human rights. The Scots and the Welsh have vibrant traditions. Whereas England yearns for identity. So where is the notion of 'Britishness'?I admit I sometimes feel ashamed of being 'British' when foreign policy taints our image abroad. Yet when I travel in London and the rest of the UK, comparing it to the progress in <more>
developed and developing countries around the world, I feel a faint tinge of pride. Racism is still present in the UK. But not as bad as many places.Happy-Go-Lucky is no carefree meander through the joys of being British. Neither is it a film that will make everyone smile as director Mike Leigh hopes . Happy-Go-Lucky is a character study. The film can be taken as very light entertainment Eastenders with a happy face. Or we could suggest it might hold up a mirror - illustrating more constructive personas than any soap opera.But here was my initial reaction:Poppy Cross is like Catherine Tate without funny. An irritating stranger that might come up to me in the street and tell me to 'smile'. She witters aimlessly, refuses to engage in serious conversation. She is like the born-again cancer patient determined to extol their remaining days with a live-life-to-the-full proselytising grin. She has the self-righteous radiance of the newly converted. The Prozac-like cheeriness of Little Miss Sunshine's dysfunctional happiness-guru, teaching success even though a complete failure. Any character criticising her is quickly demonised by the script. She indeed has, as flatmate Zoe jokes, a "strong bullshit line" in her palm. This is posh playwright/director Mike Leigh once again trying to show he understands the working class, and this time failing as miserably as Tony Blair eating beefburgers. Pulp singing Common People in the background doesn't convince. There is negligible plot development beyond the trite interactions of Poppy with others. The main dramatic tension is wondering when the final credits will put her out of her bangle-jangling misery.But the more I absorbed the film, the more I answered my own criticisms. I watched it again. Many more people were laughing than at the preview. Myself included.For all their ebullience and garish clothing, Poppy Sally Hawkins and her friends are archetypes more than regular characters. Her happiness is indefatigable. Her only sadness is that others aren't as happy as she. Every other player is more recognisable if less inspiring . Her youngest sister Suzy is three weeks away from her law exams. Her incisive humour 'tells it like it is' - but such sharp wit is destructive. The middle sister Helen is pregnant, successfully married and on the property ladder, yet vulnerable when others don't buy into her vision of happiness.Poppy's colleagues at the Primary School where she works seem to have colourless lives compared to Poppy. Her headmaster Heather has a predictable balance between home and work life, plus a Tuesday evening flamenco class. Tash, a teacher swamped by family demands, sees the glass half-full and struggles to keep up with the light pub banter.When Poppy's bike is stolen it must have "flown the nest," she says , she is confronted with more difficult oddballs. A racist driving teacher Scott and a scary-looking tramp she talks to on the way home. We might have warmed to seeing how she interacts with children under her care, but more threatening situations show a different maturity.Many superficially 'happy' people soon crack under any sort of pressure. They expect non-converts to 'accept Jesus'. Poor people to 'get a job'. Their happiness is usually predicated on a particular lifestyle and shared only with similar subscribers. Poppy, on the other hand, welcomes diversity. She cheerfully accepts that she can't 'make everyone happy'.Is she unbelievable? Not really. For all her lightness, she has seen the world. Her gap year embraced Australia, Vietnam, Bali and Australia, plus a six-month teaching stint in Thailand. She knows she doesn't know everything "What am I doing?" she asks herself, befriending the violent homeless man . But she has a bravery born of knowledge of human nature and a comfortable friendship with her own compassionate disposition. "Do you know what I mean?" asks the derelict after a stream of meaningless stuttering made even more incomprehensible by his obvious drunkenness or mental disorder . "Yeah. I do," says Poppy. Sincerely. The expression in her eyes conveys a depth that is beyond the communication of words. It is one of the best moments in the film.In a world where there is less space to share by an ever-increasing population, the tolerance and human kindness exhibited by Poppy is exemplary. And deserves to make Happy-Go-Lucky one of the most important British films of the year.Cinematographer Dick Pope provides some glorious visual treats. Poppy on a trampoline or on display for an osteopath. Or an idyllic multiple hedgerow for her self-contemplation."It's not easy being an adult," ruminate Poppy and her flatmate Zoe as they look at life from the middle of a lake. But her seemingly childlike attitude is a lot easier than the approach taken by other people in her life. "It's not easy being you, is it?" she says to her almost psychopathic driving instructor as he airs his frustrations. She must take driving 'seriously.' But Poppy is seriously happy. Her tolerance almost makes me proud to be British.One thing did worry me though. Her driving instructor berates her for wearing heels, which she refuses to replace with 'sensible' driving shoes. I enquired of some female friends if this was indeed dangerous. Apparently it is. You can ruin the back of a good pair of heels driving in them . . .
I saw this movie a couple of days ago in the Espoo Cine International Film Festival, here in Helsinki, Finlandd. What can I say about it? Well... yes, I just loved it. Why do I LOVE IT? The actress - Sara Hawkins - is so great, so special, so brilliant No doubt, she absolutely deserved the Berlin Acting Award . I almost fall in love with her during the screening. She has something special on the screen. The script is also plenty of truly special moments Specially the driving class - I also love the actor! he is so acid, weird, rude and tender and the same time, a really nice character - and <more>
the flamenco class - definitely one of the funniest sequences in the movies, so crazy, so fun . I love the positive feeling in the whole movie, from the beginning until the end. The happiness, the crazy positive feeling in every sequence, in every minute, in every second of this truly special movie. Great script, great direction - Mr. Mike Leight - , great, refreshing and surprising performances. Definitely I was really lucky to run into this movie!...and yes, it made me so happy:
I have to write it, I just have to comment on the very dumb, unintelligent criticism written by the likes of grynai or kprp about this film. They completely do not got it. For me it is a wonderful, extremely well written and acted movie. Fluffy at first sight, barely enough to hold one's interest for 90 mins at first sight, but it is only a facade! This film is about more than 15 average Hollywood dramas together. It is about a simple philosophy of life and how our attitude shapes our experiences. It is about being grateful for little things and the importance of being negative or <more>
positive. It is about what life is all about, does it have to be about getting new things, status or family? Or maybe not? When does one's life acquire sense or meaning, only when we "achieve"?? It was so very refreshing for me to see for once a female character who says that without a husband or kids her life is still excellent and very satisfactory. We have been brain-washed by the comedies or dramas, or TV series like Sex and the City, where women lose self-respect if they do not get a male couple. Let's take even the intelligent protagonists of the intelligent Sex and the City - they can heave super jobs, money, health, hobbies and friends, and they live in modern New York, yet we are told that it all means nothing without a relationship with a man, who obligatorily has to have a well functioning c**k. And to say that Poppy has no feelings for other people? That she is insensitive? How ignorant a viewer must be to have this opinion? I cannot even imagine, maybe they watched a different movie? Just the scene when Poppy has the argument with the driving instructor tells us clearly otherwise, yet apparently it is not enough for some viewers. I wish I were more like her, I know in her place I would throw away the car keys and go away angry, or maybe also threaten the guy with a restraining order. But I think, and I am glad for that, that there are probably surprisingly many people similar to Poppy in real life, living optimistically and fully their simple, on the surface meaningless lives with dignity and politeness. It is a film that despite apparent simplicity defies clichés, we expect that finally something really bad will happen to her but it does not, that the school shrink will turn out nasty yet he does not. It is a film where good things can happen to good people, which I can see in too few films. It is a film that deceptively leaves one with a warm feeling despite including various shades of evil of the life around: we see a disturbed child, we hear of the child abuse, we witness an unhappy, lonely, semi-autistic, homeless person, we see darkness and possible violence in a driving instructor, we see lack of communication or closeness between sisters... Enough yet done in an interesting, subversive, skewed way. A wonderful little film that says a much about life and the "common" people.
A cheerful film with an underlying vein of tragedy (by lexo1770)
Happy-Go-Lucky has been reviewed in the British press as a relatively lightweight Mike Leigh movie, but I'm not so sure. The story revolves around Sally Hawkins' remarkable performance as primary school teacher Poppy Cross, a highly unusual character in that Hawkins and Leigh between them manage to make her consistently cheerful and optimistic without being either naive or irritating. Poppy is presented as both relentlessly cheery and, on another level, remarkably intuitive; throughout the film, she has a series of encounters with troubled male figures a boy in her class who has <more>
started bullying, a very strange homeless Irishman and, above all, her phenomenally uptight driving instructor Scott and in all of them, Poppy's liveliness and friendly curiosity about other people is seen to be a powerful counter to male self-pity, anger and despair.Hawkins' character is not someone who is inclined to let life get her down, so it's just as well that she is surrounded by people with a somewhat more sardonic or downbeat take on reality. Her flatmate Zoe Alexis Zegerman, very good is a wonderfully dry and sarky counter to Poppy's enthusiasm, although the affection between them is palpable. Poppy's younger sisters Suzy and Helen are also quite different; Suzy is a law student who is more interested in clubbing, drinking and playing with her brother-in-law's Playstation than in criminal justice, while Helen is heavily pregnant, obsessed with acquiring the trappings of a respectable suburban life and unable to understand how her older sister can be so happy living in a rented flat and not stepping onto the property ladder.The big surprise for me is that I had been led to believe that this is a more or less straightforward feelgood film. It isn't. Scott, Poppy's driving teacher Eddie Marsan , is the most affecting character in it, and one of the greatest and most unforgettable characters in Leigh's oeuvre. Most of the reviews I've read of the film depict Scott as a hateful, sinister or otherwise despicable character, but although it's true that he is an uptight, judgmental, angry bigot, it is also perfectly clear from his first appearance that he doesn't know what he's talking about and that he is driven by emotional problems that he hasn't even begun to get a handle on. Marsan's extraordinary performance is one of the best things I've seen on film for a long time. Scott has been afflicted with very bad teeth and a mild speech defect he can't really say the letter 'r' and although his inner anger and bigotry is played for laughs for a lot of the film, in the end it is allowed to blossom forth in a riveting scene where his fury, jealousy and terror of his own darkness spill forth in a heartbreaking and riveting torrent. If part of the point of art is to help us to understand people we would otherwise have little sympathy with, then this film is a work of art. I've never seen Marsan before but he deserves awards for this movie, no question.Happy-Go-Lucky is a highly enjoyable and often very funny film, but it also carries terrible sadness. I have never been a massive fan of Mike Leigh, but lately I have to admit that I was wrong. He just seems to get better and better.
A shining occasion for modern cinema, "Happy-Go-Lucky" welcomely explores a range of emotions and themes. (by Sergeant_Tibbs)
On first impression, Mike Leigh's new film feels like a light-hearted, simple-minded and a briefly delightful flick. But when it comes to Leigh; you should enter with the assumption that you will leave drained from all other thoughts. Happy-Go-Lucky is no different. However, it has certainly got a balanced amount of comedic and dramatic elements, each outweighing each other once present on screen. The naturalistic and fast paced dialogue intertwined with slang and theory, with wit and sarcasm is contained for an intense, joyful and powerful viewing. Harsh and realistic danger is presented <more>
for emotional enhancement rather than the exaggerated situations in the conventional Hollywood film. We are set with a protagonist and remain with her to the end plus the pleasant charm of the British culture entwined.Sally Hawkins shines as the lead, Poppy, in one of the best performances of the year, a seemingly naive extrovert with a very expressive and optimistic attitude towards life and all her hardships. She laughs at unfortunate events that she "suffers", such as getting her bicycle - her form of personal transport, of which she enjoys to wave at people whilst riding - stolen, as if it were a cruel irony and she gets the joke. This upbeat spirit is rarely broken, even if the polar opposite of attitudes comes into contact with her unless taken to the absolute limit. She is an inviting figure, one that which desires to inspire her mood and thoughts on life. In doing so, she becomes a primary teacher, when the mind is at it's spongiest. There is a scene where she experiments creativity with her long term roommate Zoe Alexis Zegerman in the form of cardboard boxes and more materials to make a bird-like costume. Poppy is the definitive authority figure in the film. To match her personality is the excessive clothes with often delicate unnecessary items just to provide bright colours in the darkest of hues in the scenes. This brightness transcends her performance and makes her my absolute favourite leading performance of the year.The most expressive supporting performance comes from Eddie Marsan, as Scott, Poppy's driving instructor. However, his character is the opposite to Poppy's, always agitated and enraged when flaws occur. His character does not mix with her at all. The driving scenes are the utmost emotionally engaging scenes in the entire film and form the structure of routine giving a basis and understanding of the time frame therefore the development the characters go about in their relationships with each other - especially since they meet during his last shift so he wants to escape the working mode and enter the more relaxing mode of no responsibility. Scott constantly misinterprets Poppy's actions, as if she's sexually teasing him for her pleasure or patronizing his behaviour. During their rather short journeys of stopping, starting, arguing, repeating explanations - the tension really builds up. Every time Scott's rage is starting to show Poppy strikes him down with a joke to calm him; or maybe herself. Happy-Go-Lucky had the power to make a grin evolve across my face then wipe it straight off again within the same shot. Her comfort is very limited and only appears again with the most prominent support of Zoe a wonderfully sarcastic performance which is an absolute joy to see every time - even more so than her family that do appear not necessarily in an agreeable situation. There is also a rather striking and bleak scene in which Poppy encounters a tramp played by Stanley Townsend where he confronts her in a strange gibberish without a seeming understanding of his correct surroundings. This hobo is a symbolism of freedom, of complete and utter creativity with his language and imagination. When Poppy is presented with this person she is in a state of confusion as what to do.This is the whole point of the film. Authority Poppy , with it's intimidating and overbearing behaviour, overtakes that of the weaker society the children , so fills their views when they'll most likely take it in without hassle and live by these thoughts. Despite allowing the children to express themselves through the medium of products she is still controlling them and not allowing complete freedom; yes, on the outside they may all be different, but technically they are all bird-costumes - therefore she is not able to properly inspire the creativity she wishes to do so. However, once presented with a form of society that has matured and developed their own opinions and morals it is more difficult to get through to them - hence the firmer attitude Poppy has to resort to in order to get Scott this figure of society to conform. The flaws become more prominent once authority is unable to abide by their own rules to make society work; which is shown during the dance classes as she is clearly out of time with everyone and making up her own moves. Or a simpler interpretation and a completely valid one, is that Poppy is a child at heart, therefore her desire to work with children and therefore her dependence on the older flatmate and the fact she prefers to use a nickname as apposed to her real name Pauline . Or possibly willfully ignorant.Other than Sally Hawkins incredible performance, Happy-Go-Lucky's strength comes from the balanced script, cinematography and editing, with the ability to achieve a range of tones therefore reactions from the viewer. Natural and sharp dialogue makes for always compelling and entertaining viewing. The colour is pure eye candy, with bright bold shapes and no hues between the colours giving the film personality within itself - without the help of Sally Hawkins. The score adds to the delight with a bubbly mix of string and jazz, reflecting the main characters. Although I completely understand how someone can find these irritable, I, however, find them an absolute joy; never wanting the intense, rewarding, enriching and enlightening experience to end.9/10
An optimistic tale from Mike Leigh of all people. This is one of those films in which everything comes gloriously together. It is impossible to imagine it without Sally Hawkins. This is one case in which actress and character merge into one spectacular creation. In fact Sally Hawkins in Happy Go Lucky and Melissa Leo in Frozen River are the two best female performances I've seen in a long, long time. Sally Hawkins's Poppy is a teacher a wise, compassionate, strong, extraordinary teacher. She seems totally unaware of it but we are not. All she knows is that she loves her job. That <more>
feeling, if true, can be very contagious. We fall for her not because some kind of gimmick but because her truth precedes her and we learn to know her and respect her almost immediately. As if this wasn't enough, she's very, very, funny.
Having read some critiques to the extent that this was a film about a naive, childish woman who refused to take life seriously, I was hesitant whether I'd be able to bear this movie.Luckily, it turned out to be one of the most entertaining cinema experiences since quite a long time.Poppy isn't the person refusing to become an adult which her misanthropic driving instructor Scott accuses her to be. Our time indeed seems to bring about such people but they could hardly be more different than this lovely young woman. The first scene, with the girls drunk and chatting nonsense, is perhaps <more>
a bit misleading on this issue. In fact, several people left the cinema during this scene, seemingly annoyed of all the giggling. Rather, Poppy is wise and strong, trying to see the positive in everyone and everything. Humour, and sometimes benign derision, are her ways of keeping sulkiness out of her life. But, as everyone with a heart should feel, that is a gift, not a deficit. What damage can it cause to have a nice word or a smile for your fellow humans? On the other hand, she doesn't shut her eyes on the sad sides of life, such as a traumatized homeless man or a boy beaten by his mother's new partner, and one understands that she is deeply sad about not being able to help Scott, even if she would have had every reason to simply hate him for his bad temper, his racism and his stalking.The director has done a superb job with this production; it is packed with intelligent, witty dialogs and convincingly drawn characters.Our world needs a lot more people like Poppy, or at least -- if they don't possess her strength and optimism -- people who are sympathetic with her values instead of feeling threatened by humaneness. Yes, life is difficult and often sad, so let's tackle it with a smile!
Another Excellent Mike Leigh Vignette (by FiveHundredFlicks)
In this latest movie from Mike Leigh we are introduced to the very sweet Poppy. Poppy is a teacher, a good laugh, a bit of a loon and a really annoying person all rolled into one but try as you might you won't hold that against her. She is an unexpectedly cute cross between Michaela Strachan and Frank Spencer. Thankfully, there's no beret but there are plenty of knockabout gags which, when coupled with Poppy's infectious giggling and quick asides, had the audience laughing along quite genuinely. Characters come and go throughout the movie with an especially good performance from <more>
Stanley Townsend, but it's Eddie Marsan who gives the stand out performance in the movie with his darkly obsessive narratives and non sequiturs which expose his sinister persona. The rest of the cast are also splendid, they all fit in just right to make this a very watchable and enjoyable movie. Even the two dimensional characters have good aspects for which they are easily forgiven. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending people to this movie, my only complaint being that it was over too soon. I could have watched how the characters developed for another day or two and I guess that's down to the fascination with the ordinary which Mike Leigh builds into his films.
All of the Mike Leigh traits are present in this lovely little film: the dysfunctional family, the contrasting approaches to life and a bittersweet questioning of what it is to be happy, what it is to be human.The film is at times both lovely and disturbing. It is life affirming but carries a caveat that unhappiness does exist in sullen faces, in madness, in neuroses. However, the central characters triumph in an engaging if quirky film that may well see you leaving the cinema with a lighter step and a lighter heart.It is not a film that will win top awards but it is one that will remain in <more>
the memory a good while as it is thought provoking and ultimately wonderful.