In a poor working class London home Penny's love for her partner, taxi-driver Phil, has run dry, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they and their local community are brought together, and they rediscover their love.
Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
Slice-of-life look at a sweet working-class couple in London, Shirley and Cyril, his mother, who's aging quickly and becoming forgetful, mum's ghastly upper-middle-class neighbors, and Cyril's pretentious sister and philandering husband. Shirley wants a baby, but Cyril, who reads Marx and wants the world to be perfect, is reluctant. Cyril's mum locks herself out and must ask her snooty neighbors for help. Then Cyril's sister Valerie stages a surprise party for mum's 70th birthday, a disaster from start to finish. Shirley holds things together, and she and Cyril may put aside her Dutch cap after all.Written by
Surprisingly, this is the first Mike Leigh film I have seen. and I am glad to finally be exploring his filmography since he has intrigued me for quite some time, and I am happy to say with full enthusiasm that my first Leigh movie watching experience was wonderful.
"High Hopes" is a slice of life type film in which there is little plot, but rather a series of events that serve almost as a two hour long snapshot taken at a very specific time in the main characters' lives. While there are many interconnected characters displayed, each with their own mini story arc that can range from light comedy to dark tragedy to somewhere in between, at the center of the film is a likable young couple. A political undercurrent runs throughout the final half hour of the film dealing with the state of England under Margaret Thatcher and the beliefs of a socialist and Marxist, which is all quite interesting even if it makes the film somewhat outdated (but, with me, that isn't much of a problem); however, the film, in the end, is no so much about politics and ideology, but more so about the human spirit and its many triumphs and failures, life and it's many ups and downs. I fell in love with some of the characters in this film, and always felt deep care and concern for them. One shot in particular will always remain in my memory; it is the haunting image of an elderly women on her seventieth birthday as her family explodes (not literally) into chaos behind her. We can only see the elderly women, and we can only hear her screaming, bickering family members under the melancholic sounds of the film's often bleak score. This fragile lady is left to do no less than stare into nothingness, a fragile victim of the world's evils. But...this film is not a hopeless tragedy; rather, it is a hopeful comedy in the end, for, in the end, positivity seems to conquer the tears and tragedies that plagued the film in earlier moments (although not EVERY character seems to receive a "happy ending").
This film is a(n often darkly) humorous look into the lives of some very realistic and unique individuals as they struggle and smile through life. It is a film about love, compassion, strength, weakness, loneliness, politics, society, intimacies, and more. A beautiful feat of comic and dramatic filmmaking that sadly remains overlooked and obscure to this very day; fortunately, Mike Leigh was still rewarded in later years with a reasonably successful and highly praised career made up of many movies critics claim to be masterpieces, many movies that I now cannot wait to get my hands on!
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