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A Way of Life (2004)

 -  Drama  -  12 November 2004 (UK)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 516 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 26 critic

At 17 LeighAnne Williams has a six month old baby to look after, with only the help of three teenage squatters who flog stolen gear to make ends meet. A neighbour (actually from Turkey) ... See full summary »

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Title: A Way of Life (2004)

A Way of Life (2004) on IMDb 6.8/10

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10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephanie James ...
Leigh-Anne Williams
Gary Sheppeard ...
Robbie Matthews
Nathan Jones ...
Gavin Williams
Dean Wong ...
Stephen Rajan
Sara Lloyd-Gregory ...
Julie Osman (as Sara Gregory)
Oliver Haden ...
Hassan Osman
...
Annette
Eli Williams ...
Rebecca Williams
Darcy Williams ...
Rebecca Williams
Lynsey Richards ...
Helen
...
Social Worker
Amy Morgan ...
Karen Williams
Gareth Gethyn Evans ...
Evin
Philip Howe ...
Jacob
Ri Richards ...
Brenda Williams
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Storyline

At 17 LeighAnne Williams has a six month old baby to look after, with only the help of three teenage squatters who flog stolen gear to make ends meet. A neighbour (actually from Turkey) across the street becomes target to her growing paranoia that Social Services are going to take her daughter, Rebecca, away from her. Her behavior becoming increasingly desperate as her delusions over her neighbor grow. She convinces Steven, Gavin, and Robbie he needs a lesson. Written by kwedgwood@hotmail.com

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In the real world there are no happy endings

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Drama

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12 November 2004 (UK)  »

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A Way of Life  »

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Body Parts
Written by Paul Biggs
Performed by Roosvelt
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User Reviews

A very good British film that deserves an audience bigger than it has so far been given
1 December 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The tag line for this film is "In real life there are no happy endings" but to be honest you don't need to wait till the end of the film to find a lack of happiness because it is all through this story. In a coastal Welsh town, Leigh-Anne lives below the poverty line with her new baby. Her "partner" is around but not contributing and her day-to-day life involves hanging around with her equally jobless friends and trying to get enough money to afford the basics. As she hangs round with her friends, her frustration at her situation spills over into hatred and aggression at those around her.

I'm not quite sure what she is doing now but when this film came out a few years ago Amma Asante was hailed as part of a new wave of British talent. Eventually getting to see this film for myself I can understand why because it is an excellent piece of work with only a few weaknesses that bugged me. The plot does have a narrative flow but ultimately it is about the characters and, as such it is a convincing and engaging film because the characters are very well written. It is not a happy watch of course because it does pain a depressing picture of those on the lowest rungs of society – full of anger looking for an outlet and frustrated to the point where they seem unable to even aspire to more than their lot. It is very convincing for the most part although at times some of the touches or detail did have the ring of "film reality" rather than reality because although Asante does seem to understand her characters, she does occasionally give them moments of self-awareness that I wasn't convinced by.

As director she is also good but with a few issues. The opening beating is intense for one example – the camera gliding round the library was also well done and increased the tension later in the film. Outside of moments like these, the direction is still very good, with strong cinematography but ye intimately shot. I wasn't sure about the score though. I've nothing against the use of David Gray because it did work quite well at times but it was rather overused I thought. Asante's direction of her cast is good and she is rewarded by good performances. James is excellent in the lead and makes a very convincing character. Her self-pity is there but she keeps it from being useful and instead did a good job of showing her frustrations at her self being turned outwards. To me she is the film and again it is impressive that she carries it so well. Support is good from the rest of the cast though, all of whom fit into this world convincingly with turns from Haden, Wong, Sheppeard, Gregory and Blethyn (who's character may not be big but I suspect she was important in regards funding and distribution, so credit to her for that support).

Overall then a very strong and engaging film. It is not cheerful and it is not perfect but Asante's writing shows she understands her characters and can translate that into words and actions that mostly ring true. As director she produces some great shots but also creates an intimacy without losing the effect of being cinematic. A very good British film that deserves an audience bigger than it has so far been given.


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