10 minutes prior to wanting to throw on a film I have (Rosetta)… bam, I check my sites and find I can get Happy-Go-Lucky. Me being in a light-hearted mood and curious as to Hawkins’ praise, I check it out. To me, this film looks like it will be a nice light flick that won’t warrant another watch… ever, but boy was I wrong. (the tale of my first mike leigh viewing!)
Mike Leigh – a devout, raw and fun director, or so I’ve heard – is admirable in his attempts to do something new (again ‘or so I’ve heard’). Luckily, this isn’t just an attempt at something new, but rather a success at one of the most delightful films to come out in a long time; not even Enchanted was as charming as this film. His direction was lovely and quite a nice blend of indie and mainstream in how it was shot, which I loved – best of both worlds, right? His ability to blend Gary Yershon’s score – a score that sounded a lot like Jonny Greenwood’s work in There Will Be Blood, to me at least – with the happier scenes was excellent. Yershon’s score is slightly upbeat, but it has some very heavy undertones, so the way Leigh was able to make it all work was grand. With his lustrous style, Leigh proves he can still crank the best out of his ideas.
Leigh also wrote the script – and boy, what a script! The idea is very much like a fairytale set in a city: A woman – an excessively gleeful one – goes around her city trying to put a smile on everyone’s face (and not in the sense that The Joker would). She lives with her flatmate’s, who are adorable, too. This woman (Poppy) lives a routine life, but always with a grin. Even if she won a million dollars and lost it, I honestly believe that Poppy would smile about it and be unaffected by what had occurred. Mike Leigh does an impeccable job at creating Poppy without a fault in her personality, and up until the end of the film, Poppy remains consistent with her optimistic view upon the world. The dialogue is quick and enjoyable, and though some of the jokes fall flat, they are for the most part a riot. Even the most hard scenes to script correctly (angry conversation) are done flawlessly – leaving you in awe with the reoccurring feeling of being emotionally penetrated.
The cast was excellent – I loved everyone a lot. Sally Hawkins headlines this charming little film. She plays the ever-so eager, somewhat childish, but always lovable Poppy. Now, Poppy being a character that is always ecstatic requires a lot of hard work; especially to maintain such a glow for two hours. Hawkins is sublime and will probably go forever unmatched in the “makes me smile” department. Her little quirks are perfect: whether it be her cute gasp only heard through excessive laughter, or just her sarcastic grins (like when she hears something foul and puts a smile on and jokes about it), Hawkins is divine! Hawkins as Poppy is the best casting I have ever seen. Her performance will just leave you smiling for days and days… it might even change your life!
The supporting cast was great, too. Eddie Marsan – the best of the supporters – plays Scott, a foul driving instructor. His character is filled with so much rage, very apparent loneliness and many insecurities. He is both flagrant and pitiful and when the film ceases, you have much sympathy for this character. Marsan gives his best performance to date in this role and certainly deserves some recognition. I really enjoyed Sarah Niles as Poppy’s co-worker, Tash. Though she only has a few scenes, she really illuminates the screen with her great comedic presence. Alexis Zegerman (who plays Poppy’s best friend Zoe) was very good, too. Of the supporting females, she was the best in my opinion. She was a lot like Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada, but less bitter (to me). Her chemistry with Hawkins was great, so all’s well, right? Oh and I can’t forget to mention Stanley Townsend. He is only in one scene, but wow… what a performance. He plays a mentally unstable homeless person and well… damn. He was perfect. He’s the only person in the film that was able to steal the screen for more than 30 seconds away from Hawkins. All in all, a perfect cast. Truly perfect!
The film is so rewarding, missing it would be a travesty for it is a momentous occasion to spend two hours of your life devoted to it. If you’re ever feeling down pop this film in. It will cheer you up and you’ll fall in love with it, I’m sure. ***½/****
Here’s my FYC for Sally Hawkins: