Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

IMDb plot summary: 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.
Directed by Mike Leigh. Starring Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan, and Samuel Roukin.

(Mild spoilers discussing individual scenes.)

All right, I have to admit that for much of the movie, Poppy grated on me. REALLY grated on me. I have nothing against optimism or cheerfulness, but she reminded me of the most draining extroverts I've ever known, or those self-centered people who interrupt everything I say to make a joke or tell their own story so I eventually just give up and just stop talking because clearly they want to be heard way more than they want to listen to me, and I'm not going to fight them for attention.

So yeah. I had kind of a strong reaction against her.

There were a few scenes, however, that turned that around and made it work for me, and they were both moments where I saw real compassion from her. One was the final climactic scene with Scott (and GOSH, what a performance from Eddie Marsan), where she really, for the first time, sits and listens to him and doesn't jump in to make it about her. The second was the scene with the homeless man, someone who just needed to talk, even though he can't actually create coherent sentences. But that scene may be one of the best of any movie I've seen this year, as she worked to make a brief connection with him despite not being able to communicate through words. It's beautiful and fascinating and brilliantly done.

Those scenes helped save the movie for me, even if I still found myself really annoyed with her the rest of the time. So the movie as a whole didn't work for me very well, but those two scenes were amazing.

2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1221 out of 2271, below Peter Pan (2003) and above Disturbia.

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