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Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Poppy Cross is happy-go-lucky. At 30, she lives in Camden: cheeky, playful, frank while funny, and talkative to strangers. She's a conscientious and exuberant primary-school teacher, flatmates with Zoe, her long-time friend; she's close to one sister, and not so close to another. In this slice of life story, we watch her take driving lessons from Scott, a dour and tightly-wound instructor, take classes in flamenco dance from a fiery Spaniard, encounter a tramp in the night, and sort out a student's aggressive behavior with a social worker's help. Along the way, we wonder if her open attitude puts her at risk of misunderstanding or worse. What is the root of happiness? Written by
At one point, Scott guesses Poppy's age and is - by several years - incorrect. Yet, as he is her driving instructor, he would have seen her provisional driving license (as we see when they first meet), which always has the pupil's date of birth on it. See more »
[pulls out book from shelf]
The Road to Reality...
[smiles and pushes the book back]
Don't wanna be going there!
See more »
Mike Leigh's done it again ... for fans and detractors alike! Poppy, his latest creation, sails through this slice of life with a smile on her face, fun on her mind and kindness in her heart.
Irritating? I didn't think so. On my good days, I rather hope there's a little of her in me.
For me, she was quite brilliantly brought to life by the excellent Sally Hawkins. Ironically, if she calls to mind any other inhabitant of Planet Leigh then it's probably Jane Horrocks's rather more sour Nic (or was it Nat?) in Life Is Sweet.
And Poppy has much to be happy about. A true friend, with whom she shares a not-too-shabby flat in a Finsbury Park that I shall not stoop to comparing with the N4 district of my own experience. A job she was born to do, among supportive colleagues. An enjoyable social life, memories of travels past, a cool reetro bike (for a while, at least ... ) and a wardrobe straight out of (ahem!) an Australian's nightmare all go to emphasise the message given by the film's title.
Into her life ambles driving instructor Scott, played by the ever-welcome Eddie Marsan, and the real fun begins. If Poppy can be said to stroll across the surface of life's duckpond without even getting the soles of her cowboy boots wet, then Scott is a man slowly drowning. The film's strongest plot line (this *is* Mike Leigh!) charts the evolving relationship between these apparent opposites,and the interplay really lights up the screen.
To say more would dent your enjoyment should you decide to go and see for yourself! If you go by bike, remember to lock up securely or - better still - maybe your best friend will take you along in her "mad" yellow car.
However you get there, why not let Poppy's attitude infect you for a few hours after you leave? It probably will anyway ...
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