Friday, 25 April 2008


Just got back from seeing Happy-Go-Lucky. I guess like many I others I was curious to see if Mike Leigh could do happy.

We know he has a gift for getting top notch performances from his cast; so no surprise that the acting was impressive, notably Sally Hawkins as the central character, Poppy, and especially Eddie Marsan as Scott, the driving instructor-cum-human volcano. We know he is adept at laying bare the aching heart of the family and sure enough there’s a top notch set piece at Poppy’s sister’s place. But can he do happy?

Well we are offered a series of convincing vignettes as happy meets angry, happy meets sad and happy meets desolate. We also get a sprinkling of funny and a consistent strand of warmth.

So yes, in the end I came away convinced, Mike Leigh can do happy. But I also came away disappointed. I can cope perfectly well with no story but character studies alone aren’t enough, not unless they have something worthwhile to say or some new insight to reveal. Happy-Go-Lucky has neither. It’s engaging and humane but its also ultimately rather trivial. So Mike Leigh can do happy, but so what? Give me Vera Drake any day of the week.

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