A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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HAPPY-GO-LUCKY
2008 - Mike Leigh - United Kingdom
42

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"'A Road To Reality', I don't want to be going there." Known for his bleak films, the great British filmmaker Mike Leigh gives us something completely different with Happy-Go-Lucky, a cheery film led by a lead character that is always optimistic and tries to inspire others to see life that way as well, by simply always being that way herself. The character is Poppy and she is played with brilliant charm and complexity by Sally Hawkins, a veteran collaborator of Leigh that should finally get the praise she deserves for this wonderful performance. Through Hawkins portrayal Poppy and those she meets (including the contrasting driver instructor, excellently played by a bitter Eddie Marsan) Happy-Go-Lucky observes and questions happiness and whether or not it is found or forced. The beauty here (as with all Leigh's films) is that these characters are not used as metaphors, but rather they exist on themselves. Any broad metaphors or philosophy that emerge, comes from the characters who represent themselves. Like Robert Altman, Yasujiro Ozu, or Jean Renoir this is what makes Leigh one of the great humanist filmmakers. His films always leave us with great characters and now we have the unforgettable, life-affirming Poppy, who is definitively living life in the moment.
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