11 March 2007 | p_adkins2004
Thatcher's London through the eyes of a socialist.
Released in 1988, this is Mike Leigh's (director of Vera Drake) sublime comedy which examines the social climate of 1980s London.
I really liked this film, it centres on one extended family living in London during the Thatcher years. Cyril is a Marxist, who does despite his strong values and views chooses not to act on them, giving the world up for a hopeless cause. His partner, Shirley, desperately wants a baby, despite Cyril's strong views that the world is already "over-populated". Living in the last council house on a now yuppie infested road is Cyril's mum. A member of the generation who has been forgotten, she is slowly losing her marbles, much to the distaste of her neighbours. And as for Cyril's sister, Valerie, who lives in the social climbing climate of the middle class, she has seemingly to forgotten her roots and family ties, no doubt due to her excessive drinking of cheap champagne and her leeching husband.
This film is a brilliant gem of 1980s British cinema, despite its clear socialist values (it's cartoonish portrayal of the rich and yuppie somewhat softens the blow of its left wing message), it brings up so many interesting questions in an intelligent manner, portraying all its characters from a variety of angles and political stances, its hard not to like Cyril, but when he criticises a young 'active' Marxist follower for planning to open a market stall, he is shown to be hypocritical.
Leigh' doesn't just direct, but also write, and the script is water tight. It is extremely witty, just full of emotion and very down to earth.
This film is a very good snap shot of life in a variety of social situations and views in the churning world of the 1980s as the capitalistic London really began to boom. It is a flick that will not doubt have you smiling from cheek to cheek, yet also leave you feeling emotionally vulnerable and self-questioning.