27 user 9 critic

Meantime (1984)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | TV Movie 23 July 1986
1:15 | Trailer

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When one brother gets a job from their wealthy aunt, the other becomes increasingly jealous.



1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Jeffrey Robert ...
Frank (as Jeff Robert)
Tilly Vosburgh ...
Paul Daly ...
Leila Bertrand ...
Hayley's Friend
Hepburn Graham ...
Estate Manager
Unemployment Benefit Clerk
Herbert Norville ...
Man in Pub
Brian Hoskin ...


An odd film, primarily looking at how the dole affects the underclass in Britain. Tim Roth stars as Colin, a slow and possibly intellectually disabled man living with his parents and brother in a housing project. He and his sarcastic manipulative brother still behave like teenagers, living with their parents, harassing each other. The problem is that they are in their late teens or twenties. Neighborhood characters include Hayley, a young woman with a crush on Colin, and Coxy (Gary Oldman) a violent local skinhead who befriends Colin. Trouble ensues when their wealthy aunt gives Colin a job and his brother becomes jealous. Written by Don Smith <dsmith@health.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 July 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Időközben  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Feature film debut of Gary Oldman. See more »


Mark: Muppet.
Colin: I am not a Muppet.
See more »


Featured in The South Bank Show: Mike Leigh (2002) See more »


Infernal Galop
From Orpheus in the Underworld
Composed by Jacques Offenbach
[The music is playing in the background when Mark leaves the apartment without Colin]
See more »

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User Reviews

A beautiful and truthful film
16 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

This is Mike Leigh's finest film.

It's a shame, but inevitable given the climate of the film world, that he has become celebrated for lesser works such as "Secrets And Lies" and the odious "Vera Drake" which I found almost unwatchably patronising. By contrast, "Meantime" is the truth - as anyone who grew up in 80s London will recognise. It's the truth about what Thatcherism did to the working classes, and to human values in general in Britain. It is not by any means, however, a socialist diatribe. It is instead a gentle and touching portrait of lives ruined by forces beyond their control or comprehension. The film's anger at this injustice is all the more powerful and effective for its understatement. Leigh's other great film, "Naked", abandoned this gentleness for brutality and it suffers in comparison accordingly.

That film was saved from being guilty of the charges of nihilism and point blank bleakness by the extraordinary performances of David Thewlis and the late great Katrin Cartlidge. But the acting in "Meantime" is in many ways even more impressive, as the actors have less material - less BUSINESS - to work with. The nuances of expression, of tones of voice, of body language are an object lesson in how to inject meaning and significance into silences and incoherence. Tim Roth tends to get the plaudits for his unforgettable portrayal of the mentally retarded little brother Colin, but Phil Daniels steals the film for me: his eyes are astonishing in the range of emotional depth they command, and his jerky, uncomfortable movements vividly describe a frustrated intellect driven to despair at the hopelessness surrounding him and the terrible fear that this hopelessness is creeping inside of him. But it is in the way that Daniels's character Mark expresses his love for his helpless and hapless idiot brother that finally secures the film's greatness. This love is fierce and hard-won, and most often manifested in petty abuse. But it is real love, true and unconditional, and the way Roth's character Colin responds to it is immediate and instinctive. The bond between them is the stuff of human dignity itself, and it is this that finally transcends the shuffling pettiness of the life they have had foisted off on them.

The most memorable image may well be Gary Oldman's skinhead Coxy rolling around in a gigantic steel bucket, frantically beating at the sides with a piece of metal - a Beckettian device if ever there was one - but there are so many perfect shots, so much to savour. The crane shot of Daniels aimlessly wandering around Piccadilly Circus, the long shot of Daniels and Oldman disappearing down the canal tow-path, the unexpected close-ups, the sheer range of the camera-work is breathtaking in such a cheaply made film.

If Mike Leigh ever makes a better film, or Phil Daniels ever gives a better performance, it will be a miracle. The fact that the film has gone from almost complete obscurity when it was made (1983) to enjoy a steadily growing cult status is indication that, gradually, more and more people are realising that, far from being a dated curio, this is a very special and precious piece of cinematic art indeed.

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