|All or Nothing
Each of these characters goes through an emotional journey that is almost impossible to describe. They are all walking the knife-edge, clinging to a tiny shred of dignity and love but in danger of falling into complete and utter malaise. And the film's genius is capturing this so astutely, revealing these people in all their complexity without ever offering simplistic answers. We are thrust right into the intimacies of everyday life for these people, examining their interrelationships on almost every conceivable level, but never in a remotely obvious way. This is strong, difficult stuff, and it's played transparently by the actors, each of whom so completely inhabit their character that you believe they're real people. The standouts are Spall and Sheen, who draw us into their characters through humour and intelligence, each in a completely different way. Meanwhile, Leigh's expert writing and direction gives us profound insight into the relationships that even the characters themselves can't see. It's a remarkable film; the dialog takes our breath away with its sharp skewering of expectations and realities, the bleak honesty is balanced by the freshness of real life and moments of raw truth and comedy. It's also that rare character-driven film that grips us even though it only once resorts to a plot event to drive the "story." Don't miss it.
dir-scr Mike Leigh
with Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Alison Garland, James Corden, Helen Coker, Sally Hawkins, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Daniel Mays, Ben Crompton, Kathryn Hunter
release 18.Oct.02; US Oct.02
Worn out. Penny and Phil (Manville and Spall) at the end of the day...
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