Friday, October 24, 2008

Review: Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Mike Leigh's films usually focus on somewhat dark subject matter (see most recent: Vera Drake). But this time 'round he's gotten in touch with his inner 30-year-old single Londoner in the form of a Primary school teacher, Poppy (Sally Hawkins). She's bright, bubbly, and far too cheery. She doesn't let anybody's bad mood get her down, she doesn't care that she's single, and things work out for her. So why isn't it that easy for all of us?

This film is very very heavy in dialogue, and I have to say that it is maneuvered beautifully. The film is a candid portrait of Poppy, who is of no real significance, but we seem to care about her anyway. Her cheerful demeanor can't help but make you feel lighter on your way home. This is the warmest and most interesting film I've seen from Leigh, who writes words for 30-something women as if they were his own thoughts.

There's even a small nod towards his masterpiece Naked, which I found amusing, but blink and you'll miss it.

All that said, this film moves slow. I caught myself looking at the time, only to discover that an hour had passed, when it felt at least like it had been a half hour longer. It doesn't gloss over the mundane, which I suppose is part of its charm, but I think it needs to be reigned in just a touch.

Overall, I'd say this movie is one for the older crowd, at least that's the vibe I was getting from the audience I sat in. It's simple, minimalistic, and delightful.

Grade: B+

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