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Vera Drake (2004)

Abortionist Vera Drake finds her beliefs and practices clash with the mores of 1950s Britain--a conflict that leads to tragedy for her family.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 40 wins & 40 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Reg
Anna Keaveney ...
Nellie
Alex Kelly ...
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Sid
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Mrs. Wells
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Susan
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Mr. Wells
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David
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Sandra Voe ...
Vera's Mother
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Sid's Customer
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Storyline

Vera Drake is a selfless woman who is completely devoted to, and loved by, her working class family. She spends her days doting on them and caring for her sick neighbor and elderly mother. However, she also secretly visits women and helps them induce miscarriages for unwanted pregnancies. While the practice itself was illegal in 1950s England, Vera sees herself as simply helping women in need, and always does so with a smile and kind words of encouragement. When the authorities finally find her out, Vera's world and family life rapidly unravel. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Wife. Mother. Criminal.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for depiction of strong thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

4 February 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El secreto de Vera Drake  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£266,010 (United Kingdom), 9 January 2005, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,207, 10 October 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,753,806, 27 March 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite Mike Leigh's reputation, the film's budget was so tight that they ran out of money close to the end of shooting. Leigh and the cast rehearsed for another week before shooting restarted. See more »

Goofs

The young girl tells the psychiatrist that her father works for the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Defence was created in a 1968 merger of the War Office, Air Ministry, and Admiralty. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Vera: Hello George, only me. How are you going today?
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the end credits it says: "In loving memory of my parents, a doctor and a midwife." See more »

Connections

Featured in Vera Drake: Cast and Crew Documentary (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Salut D'Amour (Liebesgruss), Op.12
(1888)
Written by Edward Elgar
By permission of Schott & Co Limited, London
Performed by Rosemary Warren-Green (violin) and Ian Brown (piano)
See more »

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User Reviews

Wonderfully acting, developed and written even if the slow pace may put some off
13 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

In the early 1950's, Britain is still very much recovering from the war years and the working classes are very much held together by salt-of-the-earth types supporting their families and others. One such woman is Vera Drake; mother, wife, carer, cleaner and part-time back-street abortionist. Vera takes no money for her work and simply wishes to give them the help that they cannot afford to get through legitimate channels. However not everyone shares her view of abortion and it is only a matter of time before Vera's work comes to the attention of the authorities.

Bearing in mind that this film being mentioned in the Oscars, Baftas and general glowing support of critics, it is easy to forget that it raced through the UK's multiplexes so quickly that I had to wedge myself into a sold-out art-house cinema just to see it (sold out, that is, on an afternoon screening). It is even easier to forget that fewer than 1000 people have even voted for this title as I write this review. Certainly watching it yesterday it is easy to understand why it is feted by critics but not the choice of thousands of teenagers for a Saturday night at the movies, because it is a very slow, difficult film that is far from being a bundle of laughs. However it is still a fascinating film throughout even if it is not as strong as could have been expected. The story is basic and it can't quite fill the time, maybe down to the way it was written – that is, it was written as a frame and the dialogue was improvised and workshopped rather than scripted in the traditional fashion (hence Leigh's surprise at one of his Oscar nominations!).

While this weakens the story a little, it seems to have produced great performances from the cast that do more than cover for the slow pace. Staunton is superb and she stands out in the best actress category. She is a complex character that the film never easily pigeonholes and it shows how balanced the film is in the way we are not swayed in her favour by her character whenever her morals come under fire. The film is very much hers and she is totally convincing in her character. She is well supported by natural performances from Graham, Davis, Marsan and Mays among others. Leigh's direction is very intimate and, with sets and costumes, he has painted a convincingly downbeat view of post-war Britain that looks good and adds to the realistic feel of the film.

The film had a lot less debate than I had expected and it doesn't really come down on either side of the abortion issue; I guess that it is better that it leaves it to us to think over rather than preaching to us – how nice (and unusual) to be treated like adults by a film. Overall though, it is the story and Vera herself that make the film so involving, the story is well framed and the workshop approach has produced some very good performances, particularly from Staunton, who outshines all others nominated alongside her in the Oscars. Deserves to be seen by larger audiences than it has had thus far, but just don't expect it to be fast-paced, fun or gripping – it is much more than that.


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