A quietly haunting character study about Tom and Gerri (Leigh stalwarts Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen), an aging hippie couple living in the suburbs of London, whose remarkably healthy marriage is contrasted with the seriously screwed-up friends they give their time to. The biggest trainwreck, whose visits to their house over the course of a year (the film is neatly… read more!
Movies Directed by Mike Leigh (in alphabetical order)
Another of Leigh's trademark British slices of life, the result of working with his cast for months in improv workshops in order to develop fully lived-in, realistic characters. This time, Happy-Go-Lucky follows a 30-year-old Londoner named Poppy (Sally Hawkins) who is thoroughly unflappable in her optimism no matter what. Leigh gauges our tolerance for such an exuberantly cheerful person early on: shortly… read more!
Just as writer/director Mike Leigh took a deliberately paced, extraordinarily detailed look at the lives of Gilbert and Sullivan in Topsy-Turvy back in 1999, so too does he here with the great 19th century English painter Joseph Mallord William Turner – "Billy" to his friends – played with aplomb by Leigh stalwart Timothy Spall. The key difference is that Topsy-Turvy's… read more!
Intimate portrait of Victorian theatre demigods Gilbert & Sullivan and the making of their musical masterpiece The Mikado. Leigh deserves kudos for taking such unusual subject matter and mounting a lavish, $15 million film about it. It's also a terrific examination of the creative process as we follow the composer and librettist through their individual writer's blocks in 1884 to… read more!
I never got around to seeing this film when it first came out because of some slightly negative word-of-mouth amongst snooty critics, calling it a good effort but finding fault with Mike Leigh's portrait of a cheery middle-aged abortionist, deriding the character as a bit too "saintly". But then the Academy surprised everybody by bestowing Vera Drake with Oscar nominations… read more!