Happy-Go-Lucky (Vancouver International Film Festival)

Could Mike Leigh’s latest feature really be his “mellowest work yet,” as Alissa Simon maintained in her Variety review when it premiered in Berlin back in February? I guess it could seem that way if you focus on Sally Hawkins’ winning performance and factor out all the creepy characters in her orbit–including her nearly psychotic driving instructor (the terrifying Eddie Marsan, seen with her above), her pregnant sister, her flamenco dance teacher, and an incoherent tramp she encounters at one point (among others), most of whom are viewed as volatile monsters who are apt to explode at any moment. But for me this is probably Leigh’s scariest and bleakest movie since Naked, no less remote from any ordinary kind of realism (despite Hawkins’ frequent impression to the contrary) and packed with all sorts of disquiet, anxiety, and trouble. [10/5/08]

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