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
A sublime slice of ordinary life from Mike Leigh. He takes us through 5 days in the life of a London family: Jim Broadbent, Alison Steadman and their twin daughters Claire Skinner and Jane Horrox. What follows is by turns touching, hilarious and unsettling. Leigh is often compared to Ken Loach, but Loach deals with unspeakably grim and often melodramatic scenarios. The far more impressive gift of Leigh is to make tales from the apparently unremarkable. So many touches run true here; Steadman doing a little dance to herself alone in the kitchen, Broadbent and Stephen Rea drunkenly reciting the Spurs Double side, Skinner describing an arthritic old woman met on her plumbing round. And the tragedy of the film is also unveiled naturally and feels horribly believable.
The performances are also astonishing. Broadbent and Steadman, both distinctive actors, can descend into parody but here are just hugely enjoyable. Skinner is nicely deadpan but the star is Horrox, playing a twitching wreck of a girl who mainly communicates in one word insults. Little wonder she's been given so many chances to prove her talents subsequently, just a shame she's never taken them. The only false note is Tim Spall as a manic chef. Perhaps that's because he's simply put in for comic value (he was far better in Leigh's 'Secrets and Lies'), his character given none of the depth which lights up the rest of the film.
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