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Vera Drake (2004)

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Abortionist Vera Drake finds her beliefs and practices clash with the mores of 1950s Britain--a conflict that leads to tragedy for her family.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 41 wins & 40 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Vera
Richard Graham ... George
... Reg
Anna Keaveney ... Nellie
Alex Kelly ... Ethel
... Sid
... Stan
... Mrs. Wells
... Susan
... Mr. Wells
... David
... Mrs. Fowler
Sandra Voe ... Vera's Mother
... Sid's Customer
... Frank
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Storyline

Vera Drake is a selfless woman who is completely devoted to, and loved by, her working class family. She spends her days doting on them and caring for her sick neighbor and elderly mother. However, she also secretly visits women and helps them induce miscarriages for unwanted pregnancies. While the practice itself was illegal in 1950s England, Vera sees herself as simply helping women in need, and always does so with a smile and kind words of encouragement. When the authorities finally find her out, Vera's world and family life rapidly unravel. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Wife. Mother. Criminal.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for depiction of strong thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

4 February 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El secreto de Vera Drake  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£266,010 (United Kingdom), 9 January 2005, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,207, 10 October 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,753,806, 27 March 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite Mike Leigh's reputation, the film's budget was so tight that they ran out of money close to the end of shooting. Leigh and the cast rehearsed for another week before shooting restarted. See more »

Goofs

Vera's sister-in-law Joyce says she wants a washing machine which costs "25 pounds." Until decimalization in 1971, most luxury goods, like washing machines and men's suits, were priced in guineas, not pounds (one guinea = one pound one shilling, or one pound five pence in decimal). Some stores, particularly those wishing to appeal to the middle class or aspiring to a degree of 'poshness', priced items in pounds. Throughout the 1960s most domestic items were priced in pounds, shillings, and pence. Services and professions continued to charge in guineas until much later. In the film, an abortion costs two guineas. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Vera: Hello George, only me. How are you going today?
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Crazy Credits

After the end credits it says: "In loving memory of my parents, a doctor and a midwife." See more »

Connections

Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Salut D'Amour (Liebesgruss), Op.12
(1888)
Written by Edward Elgar
By permission of Schott & Co Limited, London
Performed by Rosemary Warren-Green (violin) and Ian Brown (piano)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The most powerful female performance of the year
18 October 2004 | by See all my reviews

I don't think I need to fear rolling pins being thrown in my general direction when I say that powerful women roles are few and far between in Moviedom. That is not to say that there aren't any, it's just that it is rare for a female performance to blow you away in any projector driven screening. This is due more to Hollywood's reluctance to create interesting and powerful roles for the female elite than the actresses' ability themselves. Where studio honchos salivate over the next Jack Nicholson powerhouse or Anthony Hopkins costume drama, there are far far too few Charlize Theron's Monster to counter.

However, leave it up to Mike Leigh to try and correct this trend. In 1996, he wrote and directed the wonderful Secrets & Lies, and his writing for the women leads was so strong, that the Academy awarded nominations for both Best Actress (Brenda Blethyn) and Supporting Actress (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Now in 2004, Leigh has given us the strongest performance by a male or female of the year with Imelda Staunton as the title character in the new film Vera Drake.

Vera Drake is the story a family in 1950's London. Vera is the Motherhead and she is the jack-of-all-trades within the community. Her days are spend stopping in on elderly people to help them with their lunch, working a various estates as a cleaning lady, slaving at a light bulb producing factory and most notably, as a caring individual who helps young and poor women terminate unwanted pregnancies.

However, if you were to ask Vera Drake what her role was, she would probably admit to being a mother first – a caregiver to her husband and two children.

A selfless woman who has little time for herself and therefore little time to digest the consequences of her illegal actions. Vera is goes about every bit of her business, whether she is down on her knees cleaning the brass around a fireplace or helping a woman perform an abortion without a frown and usually with a smile on her face, a whistling tune on her lips and the kettle on the stove.

Vera's family are equally lovable individuals. Her husband, Geroge (Phil Davis) works with his brother at an automobile repair shop. Her son Sid works as the local tailor and her daughter is a soft spoken lass who falls for a local man Vera invites over to dinner as a kind gesture. Together they make the quintessential family unit that we all envisioned 1950's households to encompass.

But when a local girl has a bad reaction to a Drake endorsed abortion, their world is turned on end. An investigation by the local police lead them to Vera's door on the night of celebration due to her daughters engagement. And as the police take Vera to the local booking station for a statement and sentencing, Imelda Staunton does her best work through the tears and expressions mirroring the suffering at the anguish she has put her family through.

Vera Drake might just be the best picture to be viewed by this critic this year. The characters are so robust and real that every time Vera put the kettle on for a cup of tea, you would think she is doing it for everyone in the audience. We become captivated by their lives and interested in the effects the events have on the family unit. The writing is crisp and you can imagine these people saying these things to one another – a gift not often bestowed upon moviegoers in such a powerful form.

Director Mike Leigh deserves most of the credit. He transforms Vera in front of us and manages to take an illegal action that is generally taboo in conversation and shows us the innocent side of the argument where rich people pay large sums of money to go specialists, but the poor and equally needy require the services of a local underground network. As someone who sits on one side of the abortion issue, I was amazed at the conclusion of the film how non-preaching and argumentative the film ended up being. Vera goes about her business like a friend helping out someone in need. She deals not in the politics or the societal view of her task but rather as someone just doing what is best for those found in situations where this solution is the only viable option.

Leigh's writing and directing however are overshadowed by the incredible performance by Imelda Staunton. This maybe the first film that I can remember where a female should win an Academy Award for a role that didn't harbor any speeches into the camera or voice over dramatization of the situation. With that, I give Vera Drake a very strong recommendation.

www.gregsrants.com


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