7.5/10
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32 user 40 critic

Life Is Sweet (1990)

R | | Comedy, Drama | December 1991 (USA)
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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
...
...
...
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Nicola's Lover
Moya Brady ...
Paula
...
Steve
...
Customer
Paul Trussell ...
Chef (as Paul Trussel)
Jack Thorpe Baker ...
Nigel
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

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Details

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Release Date:

December 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida é Doce  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,516,414 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

On-screen twins Jane Horrocks and Claire Skinner were, appropriately enough, born in the same year (1964), though roughly ten months apart. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in Mike Leigh in Conversation (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Holidays
By Rachel Portman and Julian Wastall
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User Reviews

 
Unpretentious but unforgettable domestic drama.
5 September 1999 | by See all my reviews

This unpredictable and hard-hitting film follows the lives of the fascinating characters who make up a lower-middle-class family. A character-based story, there really isn't a plot, as there isn't a plot in our everyday lives, but it is all the more interesting for that.

The parents are amicable beings: the mother Wendy a chirpy, motherly character (very well-acted), the father incredibly laid-back, yet hard-working at a job he hates. Their two daughters are like chalk and cheese: Natalie, a plumber, is quiet and practical (I thought she was a boy at first: hers is a curiously unsexed character) while Nicola is a complete mess.

The ugliness of true life is shown beside its mundane beauty. The shocking scenes of Nicola's self-torture (she is a secret bulimic) are juxtaposed with scenes of the mother dusting, and the ordinary cheerfulness of the rest of the family. A bizarre family friend, Aubrey, and his dream of running his own restaurant provide a subplot of sorts, but the domestic drama is far more interesting.

Horricks gives a startling good performance as the disturbed Nicola: she drips with self-loathing, but inspires pity. The most poignant scene is one in which her boyfriend, no Einstein himself, becomes fed up with her intense sexual demands, and asks her to prove her intelligence by having a real conversation with him. Nicola, whom we know is intelligent, cannot bring herself to do this: she is compelled to always show herself in the worst light. She can only mutter 'I AM intelligent' in a voice of despair. The boyfriend departs, leaving her in a state of even more intense self-hatred and depression. It is hard-hitting scenes like this one which stick in the memory.

The mother, Wendy, who appears a scatterbrain at first, emerges as a dignified, wise and compassionate woman, as she responds in a touching scene to her troubled daughter Nicola.

It's such a plain-looking film, yet it is striking because of the intensity of its characters, and the honesty of director Mike Leigh's observations. Although life is hard for the family, it is also sweet. That, I think, is Leigh's message.


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