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There's little wonder in the working-class lives of Bill, Eileen, and their three grown daughters. They're lonely Londoners. Nadia, a cafe waitress, places personal ads, looking for love; Debbie, a single mom, entertains men at the hair salon after hours; her son spends part of the weekend with her ex, a man with a hair-trigger temper. Molly is expecting her first baby and the child's father acts as if the responsibility is too much for him. Eileen is bitter, complaining about her husband and the dog next door; Bill's a doormat. His West Indian neighbor offers him a drink; her own grown son locks himself in his room most of the time. Will anyone connect during this Guy Fawkes weekend?Written by
This is a very artful piece of work which looks like it was made by the Dogma mob hand held camera, minimal lighting, grainy film, but it is actually very well put together by Michael Winterbottom with superior acting, good musical score (by Michael Nyman) and a reasonable amount of dramatic tension. Initially I thought `God this is boring' as three days in the life of three sisters and their family, lovers and friends, all ordinary Londoners, unfolded, but by about a third of the way through it got interesting. By the end I was starting even to care about the characters. It was a little like watching a television series where the fairly ordinary characters unfold slowly, but somehow over time get a hold on your imagination. Except of course this film is just over 100 minutes long.
We see most of the story through Nadia, the middle sister, played by Gina McKee, who last popped up at a dinner party in `Notting Hill'. This time it's inner South London, and Nadia is answering lonely hearts ads without great success. Her older sister Debbie (Shirley Henderson, the tiny diva from `Topsy Turvy') who has an ex husband and a 10 year old son, seems to have no trouble picking up men, while Mollie (Mollie Parker) the youngest, is awaiting the birth of her first child. In a whirl of lights, crowded streets, traffic, noisy bars, cigarette smoke and small ill-lit rooms, their interwoven stories are played out. In the background, but close at hand are Mum and Dad, despising each other but still living in the same house.
All the sisters are well portrayed but Kika Markham and Jack Shepard, trusty old troupers that they are, practically steal the show as the disillusioned parents. The sister's men (and their mostly absent brother) are portrayed as weak, shallow or stupid, but the sisters are a forgiving bunch (unlike their mother).
It really is quite an achievement to make an interesting, honest movie about lives so mundane that they make `This Life' look like `Melrose Place'. If I were such an ordinary Londoner and I saw this film I think I'd experience the shock of recognition. And then consider emigrating. The life of the contemporary ordinary female Londoner is not far removed from quiet desperation, it seems. And perhaps that's so for the men too. It's just that they notice it a bit less.
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