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.
Penny's love for her partner, taxi-driver Phil, has run dry. He is a gentle, philosophical guy, and she works on the checkout at a supermarket. Their daughter Rachel cleans in a home for elderly people, and their son Rory is unemployed and aggressive. The joy has gone out of Phil's and Penny's life, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they are brought together to rediscover their love. All or Nothing is set on a London working-class housing estate over a long weekend, and also tells the stories of a range of Phil and Penny's neighbors, some of whom become involved in the family's lives, and all of whom experience an emotional journey.Written by
Mike Leigh's 'All or Nothing' features some of the trademarks of his best known films: naturalistic acting, moments of extreme poignancy, and a sensitive portrait of those for whom modern life is not easy. But it lacks the more comic characters who have often adorned his work. In their absence, the result is one of his most understated, and downbeat, movies since his debut feature 'Bleak Moments'; and in spite of little jewels in the script, at times its almost painfully hard to watch. Additionally, the portrait of a very white British underclass, and the empty streets of the estate where they live, doesn't quite seem in tune with life as it is actually lived today. To my mind (and despite the Oscar nominations won by 'Secrets and Lies) Leigh's best contemporary portraits remains his early 1990s trio: the bittersweet 'High Hopes', the hilarious 'Life is Sweet' and the coruscating 'Naked'; but as he followed this film with the brilliant period drama 'Vera Drake', maybe he simply needed a change of scene to refocus his vision. Still, this film is definitely a minor entry in his canon.
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