CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
HAL 9000

New “Happy-Go-Lucky” British Trailer

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 01, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


UK Director Mike Leigh’s most anticipated feature film Happy-Go-Lucky is set to play in theaters September 26th. Leigh (High Hopes, Secrets & Lies, Career Girls), who is responsible for uncommonly powerful films about blue-collar people living in London, has had a fruitful career. His method of direction is to accumulate working actors with a theme in mind and then develop the script using improvisation and a deep understanding of the characters. The result is films that feel as unpredictable and as fascinating as life really is.

Happy-Go-Lucky Trailer

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Vera Drake (2004), Leigh’s previous feature, showcased Imelda Staunton in an Academy Award Nominated Performance as a nurturing mother and wife who, out of the goodness of her heart, performed abortions deemed illegal back in the 1950s. Leigh’s love for the plays of Gilbert and Sullivan inspired Topsy Turvy (1999), staring Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner as the creative duo in a dramatized realization of their comic-opera “The Mikado”. After that, Leigh made the gritty and heartfelt All or Nothing (2002) portraying a working-class family (Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville) whose sudden crisis shakes them out of their destructive malaise.

One of the characters in All or Nothing, an angst-ridden young woman who berates her alcoholic mother is played by Sally Hawkins. Hawkins is in the title role of the comedy Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) as Poppy, a thirty-year-old preschool teacher who exudes great wit and optimism wherever she goes. Her bright outlook in life is tested by a troubled child being abused at home and by a cynical driving instructor who holds onto deep prejudice. In Leigh’s hands, such a cheerful character will be extraordinarily complex as to harbor deep feelings of bitter-sweetness.

Honored for her performance as Best Actress by the Berlin Film Festival this year, Hawkins portrays Poppy as the kind of sweet, outgoing and insightful free-spirit that you just want to embrace. She has an enduring sunny quality reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous, 2000 and All the Real Girls, 2003) that’s quite infectious. Let’s hope Leigh’s film is too.

An Interview with Sally Hawkins

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