Happy-Go-Lucky, Mike Leigh (2008)

Well of course it’s no such thing, this being a Mike Leigh joint. The real subject here is the same as it always is for Leigh: How can we live with other people? Poppy, a character based on my good friend Bailea, is fundamentally an optimist. Her driving instructor Scott is fundamentally a pessimist. Can they get from A to B without crashing? That makes the movie sound simple, which, in terms of its plot, it certainly is. The nuance and pleasure of a Leigh movie lie in the nature of the performances, which Leigh shapes but does not determine, such that the actors seem not to be acting but being. That purity is less in evidence here than in other of Leigh’s movies–a few of the set pieces here are too obviously contrived to be taken for naturalism–but there are still many moments which resemble authenticity so closely they could just as well be authentic. Ugh, I’ve got a terrible mouth full of marbles on this one; I’m trying to say it’s charming and you should see it.

Leave a Reply