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1/10
supposed "free spirit" is merely self centered, selfish
8 September 2015
How I detested this film. What on earth was Mike Leigh thinking? I was absolutely on the driving instructor's side: She teases and flirts and then:

is appalled when he actually thinks he might be in her league enough to pursue some kind of romance. Nothing like toying with the emotions of a lonely person.

I realize we are supposed to perceive this character in a positive light, but....ugh. I am a dyed-in-the-wool leftist, but she reminds me of every so called liberal who bleeds for those far away while treating those closest to them like absolute crap. Hawkin's whimsy was forced, the dialogue blood curdlingly precious, and I don't think I've ever wanted so badly to slap a fictional character upside the head.

Now if this was what Leigh intended, then it's brilliant.

I have a feeling though, that this is just the other side of the coin from "Naked" his film about another selfish twit who uses phony darkness (and dorm room bloviation disguised as existential despair) instead of phony lightness to get other people to give them whatever it is they want. People are props to these protagonists. Life for them is a one person act.

Leigh is not without nuance and talent, but when it comes to women he seems to be at a loss; we get martyrs or "magical pixie dream girls", mater dolorosas or bitter shrews. Even the amazing Brenda Blethyn has to work hard to make her people people in his films.

Hawkin's post-punk waiflet Sally Bowles her way into the long line up of White Girls without Borders, pre-figuring all those MPG's embodied by Zoe Descchanel; like all the magical pixies to come, Hawkin's is supposedly rebellious but is in fact cocooned in her privilege to the point of dementia. Setting up cardboard foils like her square sister is the kind of trope you get from budding screenwriters in the sixth grade. Dour and suburban, might as well have been rubbing her hands together while chortling "I'll get you my pretty or telling little kids not to eat Twix in the library:

But this is mere laziness, what pervades this movie even more is a sense of outright wrongness; my sympathies were entirely with the driving instructor, who was clearly supposed to represent negativity, so I found myself in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the villain. Oh, and if this girl was NOT a total dick tease, then she is an adult who has somehow not discovered the facts of life, (which she bloody well has). Nothing disgusts me more than people who flirt and then act surprised that their flirtation is sexually arousing/confusing.

I don't like giving negative reviews, ranting isn't my thing, believe it or not, but this film truly infuriated me on so many levels that I don't have the time or patience to list them. Uck.
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