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A look at a few chapters in the life of Poppy, a cheery, colorful, North London schoolteacher whose optimism tends to exasperate those around her.

April 18, 2008

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

Happy-Go-Lucky (PG) * * * *

Director: Mike Leigh
Stars: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan
Studio: Maple
Release Date: Oct. 24, 2008
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Audience Suitability: PG
Rating: * * * *



Behind the wheel can prove deadly for novices. Take one newly trained driver for instance. Under the wise tutelage of director/writer Mike Leigh (Vera Drake) viewers are taken on a momentous ride in Happy-Go-Lucky. From out of nowhere comes a leading lady destined for major stardom. Consider this a must-see film for those into fine drama from Maple Films now shining bright at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking).

Across the pond British actress Sally Hawkins has been racking up nice credits as an up and comer. Happy-Go-Lucky heralds her entry into the big leagues as a likely best actress contender for this year’s Oscars. Hawkins stars as a wild and wacky woman whose outer veneer masks some inner intensity sure to grow on you.

Life certainly has its ups and downs but for Poppy everything is taken in stride. Nothing seems to faze her. Always wearing a smile this fashionable miss comes across as the ultimate feel good woman. Living with Zoe the pair often paint the town red after a hard day’s work and seem to have little time for men. Family matters, however, do begin to take their toll as Poppy’s sisters continue to razz her about men and children.

Despite that wacky outer façade that’s really contagious our Poppy takes an active interest in children and for some reason decides to learn to drive. Here the movie kicks into overdrive as she meets Scott, a driver instructor bent to turn this flimsy woman into a hard-core road warrior. Off the rail things go in a hurry as the pair become engaged in an emotional struggle with turmoil aplenty to go around for each other and their circle of friends.

Smart writing and dynamic performances turn Happy-Go-Lucky into one of the best films of the year. Cast aside the slow opening and you’ll easily fall under the spell of Ms. Hawkins who dominates this movie. Equal to the task as the driver instructor is Eddie Marsan (Miami Vice) who will strike fear in the minds of all would-be learners. Raw language and realistic situations make the movie all the more enjoyable over its 118 minute sojourn.

Nice supporting work from Alexis Zegerman in a promising debut and Samuel Rouvkin make Happy-Go-Lucky quite an emotional (if not draining) experience. Plenty of social issues also rear their heads here making this movie an even stronger commentary on personal relationships thanks to its well-defined and highly energetic characters.

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