Bleak Moments

Mike Leigh’s auspicious first feature focuses on the painful gaps in communication between a lonely accountant’s clerk (Anne Raitt) and an uptight schoolteacher she halfheartedly tries to seduce. Kitchen-sink realism with a vengeance, punctuated by painful and awkward silences, this was made before Leigh formed a fully coherent social and political view of his material, but his feeling for the characters never falters. One can find a glancing relationship with Cassavetes’s first feature, Shadows, but the style and milieu is English to the core. This might seem overlong, and the drabness and emotional constipation may drive you slightly batty, but the film leaves a powerful aftertaste. (JR)

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