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HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, 2008
Movie Reviews!

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HAPPY-GO-LUCKY MOVIE POSTER
HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, 2008
Movie Reviews

Directed by Mike Leigh
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan, Kate O’Flynn
Review by Nina Katungi



SYNOPSIS:

Poppy is an unusually optimistic and happy person. She simply enjoys her life and embraces everybody and anybody around. When two troubled acquaintances show an emotional vulnerability, Poppy is quick to jump to their rescue. These challenges set Poppy off on all different courses including a voyage, which finds her spiralling down to a grim and troubled place.

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REVIEW:

Mike Leigh is a fascinating filmmaker. He doesn’t write traditional scripts for his films, he merely has an idea, flows with it and allows it to unravel from one day to the next and as a result capture our emotional worlds spectacularly. I guess you’d call him an unconventional filmmaker as he doesn’t follow any rules but his own. It just goes to show that a lot, if not most of great the things around us are created outside the box. If you are not so familiar with Mike Leigh, he is well known for “Secrets and Lies”, which won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film festival in 1996 among many other awards and Oscar nominations too. He’s also known for “Vera Drake”, which won the Alexander Kord award for Best British Film at the BAFTA’s in 2005 along with many other wins and nominations.

Poppy (Hawkins) is a thirty-year old School Teacher, she’s single, lives with her best friend Zoe (Zegerman) and couldn’t ask for anything more. She is simply happy, optimistic and will always be there to give a helping hand not just to family, friends, but to strangers too. I found Poppy’s character to be quite intriguing. I found her to be awkward at times and that made me unsure about her character and who she really was. The beginning of the film was a bit difficult to follow and because of that I must admit I was feeling quite sceptical about the film. The film however becomes more and interesting and then suddenly we get drawn into this powerful tale. The oddities are all there for a reason, I was uncomfortable because she was honestly herself – good and bad. We are all annoying at times, which I found Poppy to be but she grew on me. I fell in love with this unusual, warm, loving character.

Two conflicts come across Poppy’s path in this story. Poppy is a school teacher, she teaches eight/nine years old. She is great with them and keeps them all close to her heart. Poppy starts to notice a change in one of her students, he’s become angry and has started bullying the other kids. She is concerned about the welfare of the boy and takes it on herself to find out where the real problem lies. Poppy also starts taking driving lessons from Scott (Marsan), an angry, insecure racist. Their personalities contrast from here to eternity but with Scott’s pride of never leaving a job unfinished and Poppy’s gently spirit that sees the good in everyone, they take each other as any other challenge. It’s interesting how these characters are connected. There’s an innocent boy whose world is being corrupted by abuse at home and if he doesn’t get help now he will end up a sad, angry man like Scott. Poppy wants to save them both but realises that not everyone can be saved.

This film is raw, moving and I was compelled by the powerful characters and storyline. It’s a film that you will feel, it will move you, make you think and celebrate the complex beings that we are. There is a part in the film where Poppy goes to a Flamenco class and the teacher (Karina Fernandez) is absolutely extraordinary. She owns this scene and she takes the audience into the beautiful and emotional world of flamenco dancing. She is so passionate when she speaks that you find yourself lost in her world. I became envious of her emotional strength, it was really inspiring.

“Happy-Go-Lucky” isn’t about a character that is happy all the time, it’s a film about happiness and how we all interpret the idea differently. Mike Leigh has captured a moment of happiness in each of his characters. He’s created a film so strong that it leaves you with a little piece of mind – whatever this may be to the each individual. I’m so happy that I finally got around to watching the film. It has been my intention for a long time and just recently I finally rented it out. There something about Mike Leigh’s films, he awakens your senses and really gets your blood flowing. I would recommend everyone to watch Mike Leigh’s films - all I can say is that he gets it.

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