July 10, 2008


As with all of Mike Leigh’s films this is one that just has to be watched. The characterisations he displays in his writing and directing are tremendous and the casting as always is superb. While not all of his films are exactly pleasurable to watch- in fact they can sometimes be hard work with the emotional load that they carry, they are an excellent study of relationship dynamics that is really needed in cinema today.

Happy Go Lucky is a change of direction in that this is really a genuine happy character and is just so engaging that it is difficult not to be swept up in her deliriously happy life. Sometimes annoyingly happy and with her trying to make sure that everybody around her is looked after, she does lead herself into a few situations that are certainly dodgy so that you can see underneath it all she is a little troubled herself.

Of course this being Mike Leigh there does have to be some moments of tension and serious issues which are just brilliantly carried out by the cast. Obviously Poppy the main character but as well the driving instructor with his darkly comical theories and negative views, the sensible-ish friend Zoe, the fanatical Flamenco teacher, and the counsellor Tim (yes finally a Tim that isn’t characterised as gormless!)

While there are some truly intense scenes- the last car scene with the driving instructor being the best, there are some that are extraneous. The first scene with the bookshop/bike and later with the homeless man may be insights into the character but I think that the film could have stood in a better light without them.

For once after leaving the cinema from a Mike Leigh film I had a smile on my face. I wish that there were more people like her in this world- not afraid to approach life with a smile and share the joy around. Unfortunately with the social constructs of today’s world it is getting harder to converse with strangers and while I know it can be hard work sometimes having happy go lucky friends- they are worth their weight in gold.



  1. Definitely one of the best films of recent times. We had a really good discussion after it, teasing it all out.

    A couple of things on the criticism that you make.

    Re the shop scene early on, I feel that Mike Leigh is trying to dupe us a little at the start with the complete kookiness that she shows then. While that part of her always does remain, I think that the more complex aspects of Poppy’s character are only allowed to emerge as the film progresses (especially her huge compassion for others).

    To take this remark a step further, it is no coincidence that many of the characters are teachers or instructors. I think that there is a significant and rather dark message to be found in the film about the great responsibilities that such people have in terms of influencing the lives of others – especially children.

    Regarding the vagrant, I do not think that it is a coincidence that the three troubled men in the film are a boy, a youngish enough man still, and someone on the wrong side of middle-aged. The first is quite saveable, the second (Scott) is in the balance, and the third seems beyond reach. It is because Scott is the greatest challenge that the film ultimately focuses on the dynamics between Poppy and him.

    In all, an amazing film. Cannot wait to get the DVD.

    (P.S. After a bright beginning, I thought that Tim descended into a romantic plank and that the love scene the only real mis-step in the whole thing. Sorry!)

  2. Hey Longman,
    Wow-great comment!! Think I will have to meet up with ya to discuss films at some stage!

    Had forgotten some of the reasoning behind the story- problem with putting a few notes in the drafts and then taking 2 odd months to get the post out. Although during the film I didnt tie the three troubled men together- vagrant scene definitely makes sense when you put it that way.

    As to Tim- romantic plank is still one step up from gormless! As well, since I have been a wee bit on the romantic side meself these days, I can’t really complain;-)

  3. Thanks !

  4. Happy-Go-Lucky isn’t just a film that demonstrates the goodness of humankind, but makes you believe in it as well. A great film, that couldn’t stop being funny. Check out my review when you can!

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