Life Is Sweet (1990)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  December 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,863 users   Metascore: 88/100
Reviews: 29 user | 40 critic | 18 from

A waitress, her cook husband, & their twin daughters ponder their lives over a few weeks in a working-class suburb north of London.



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8 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Nicola's Lover
Moya Brady ...
David Neilson ...
Paul Trussell ...
Chef (as Paul Trussel)
Jack Thorpe-Baker ...
Nigel (as Jack Thorpe Baker)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and a scene of sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

December 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida é Doce  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,516,414 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


David Thewlis was disappointed at being given such a small role, so Mike Leigh promised him that the next time he considered Thewlis for a role in a film, "he'd be given a fair slice of the pie." Thewlis would be cast as the lead in Leigh's next film Naked (1993), and win an award for his performance. See more »


[Natalie and Nicola ponder having children]
Natalie: Well, I wouldn't fancy bringing one up on me own.
Nicola: It's better to be on your own than be with a bastard.
Natalie: Well, presumably you wouldn't *choose* a bastard in the first place if you had any sense!
Nicola: All men are bastards!
Natalie: *What*?
Nicola: They're all potential rapists!
Natalie: That's a bit sweeping!
Nicola: All men have got the ability to rape.
Natalie: Well they don't all do it, do they!
See more »


Happy Holidays
By Rachel Portman and Julian Wastall
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User Reviews

23 November 2000 | by (Manchester, England) – See all my reviews

I often fantasise about directing a movie (yes, I know I'm sad!), and I would like to think that my movies would come out like Mike Leigh's: affectionate without being sentimental, funny without crossing over into out-and-out comedy, realistic without being bleak or depressing.

This portrayal of an "ordinary" English family is everything a film ought to be. Great acting - Alison Steadman in particular - her character's relentless optimism and cheerfulness interspersed with knowing when a situation needs to be treated more seriously; Jim Broadbent as the day-dreaming father and Jane Horrocks as the anorexic Nicola. All the characters are beautifully drawn, including the minor characters (Timothy Spall as doomed chef Aubrey, Stephen Rea as dodgy-dealer Patsy, David Thewlis as Nicola's unnamed lover).

Some typical Leigh scenes include the excellently framed shot of the burger-van in the scrapyard (which could almost be a painting!), and the panning shot along the back of the row of houses (implying that similar dramas are unfolding in everyone's lives).

Not much actually happens, but that's part of the point - it takes in themes of happiness, hopes and dreams, friendship and family ties. Clearly a precursor to "Secrets And Lies", this is a simpler, purer film, but with the same message of ultimate optimism.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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