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.
Just north of London live Wendy, Andy, and their twenty-something twins, Natalie and Nicola. Wendy clerks in a shop, leads aerobics at a primary school, jokes like a vaudevillian, agrees to waitress at a friend's new restaurant and dotes on Andy, a cook who forever puts off home remodeling projects, and with a drunken friend, buys a broken down lunch wagon. Natalie, with short neat hair and a snappy, droll manner, is a plumber; she has a holiday planned in America, but little else. Last is Nicola, odd man out: a snarl, big glasses, cigarette, mussed hair, jittery fingers, bulimic, jobless, and unhappy. How they interact and play out family conflict and love is the film's subject.Written by
A superb example of Mike Leigh's directing method - working with his actors, many of them regulars, making up most of the script as they go along.
No falling empires or coveted magical rings here, just the small victories and tiny despairs of everyday life - Timothy Spall's ridiculous restaurant ("Liver in Lager"??), Jane Horrocks' eating disorder and general estrangement from the world, Jim Broadbent and his grimy little burger van, Clair Skinner's endearingly sensible tomboy plumber... all exquisite little portraits. Best of all is Alison Steadman as the suburban Earth-mother trying to hold it all together.
It shows, above all, that a great film can be about anything really, as long as the direction, acting and script is of this calibre. Ben Hur, it ain't!
Absolutely marvelous - 9/10.
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