Happy-Go-Lucky (15)

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Wed Feb 13 2008

Sally Hawkins is a real delight in Mike Leigh’s new film as Poppy, a 30-year-old Londoner with a bubbly nature and an ever-present laugh that teeters between lovable and annoying. Hawkins’ performance, and Leigh’s harnessing of it, is a tease: when we first see Poppy, cycling through the West End and joking with a grumpy bookshop assistant before joining her friends for a late-night drunken session, we don’t know what to make of her. She’s loud, joyful and indulges in terrible jokes; surely there’s something wrong with her?

The trick that Leigh and Hawkins finally pull off so cleverly by the end of 'Happy-Go-Lucky’ is that we’re entirely in cahoots with her. Poppy is a mirror to us all: if we find her blind optimism and sunny nature hard to swallow, perhaps there’s something wrong with us instead? By then, too, we know that Poppy is not the blinkered soul we may first think: she is compassionate, perceptive and harbours her own sadnesses like the rest of us.

Leigh always finds plot in character, and ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ is more of a portrait than a story; a film that’s built around one performance. He is less concerned here, unlike, say, ‘Secrets & Lies’ and ‘Vera Drake’, with following a driving narrative than with minutely observing Poppy through her relationships with others, whether it’s the kids she teaches at her primary school, her repressed driving instructor (Eddie Marsan, excellently playing a heavy-duty bag of hang-ups), her close friend and flatmate Zoe (Alexis Zegerman) or her older, more settled colleague Heather (Sylvestra Le Touzel), whom she joins at flamenco lessons after work. In that sense, it’s comparable to ‘Naked’.

It’s a study in sadness versus happiness, a study in teachers and the taught, a study in how we carry with us everyday the burdens of what we have and haven’t learned. You know you’re watching something both delightfully light-footed and acutely meaningful when Leigh moves so nimbly between scenes at Poppy’s school, her flamenco class and her driving lessons. There’s also a wonderfully moving scene, darker and more poetic in tone, when Poppy encounters a tramp late at night. It’s a funny film – a surprise perhaps after ‘Vera Drake’ – and, crucially, it aches with truth.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Apr 18, 2008

Duration:

118 mins

Cast and crew

Cast:

Kate O'Flynn, Sarah Niles, Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan

Screenwriter:

Sally Hawkins, Mike Leigh

Director:

Mike Leigh

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:62
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:7
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|200
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Monika

loved it ! loved it ! loved it !, and just read comment those who do not get this are probably related to the driving instructor loved that tooo ; D

Monika

loved it ! loved it ! loved it !, and just read comment those who do not get this are probably related to the driving instructor loved that tooo ; D

helly belly

I thought Poppy was amazing, and extremely well played. I dont see what people find annoying about her, her kindess and happiness makes her impossible to hate (for me anyway). I suppose its all how you veiw the movie. There was something magic about this movie, maybe the relatability or how REAL the characters seem to be. Im not sure but it was certainly enjoyable to watch. Scott however was a terrifying character for me. Poppy's bravery is astounding, I know I would have bolted far before the whole hair-grabbing incident. He was simply a disturbing character. Anyway, this movie was brilliant. I can't wait to watch it again!

helly belly

I thought Poppy was amazing, and extremely well played. I dont see what people find annoying about her, her kindess and happiness makes her impossible to hate (for me anyway). I suppose its all how you veiw the movie. There was something magic about this movie, maybe the relatability or how REAL the characters seem to be. Im not sure but it was certainly enjoyable to watch. Scott however was a terrifying character for me. Poppy's bravery is astounding, I know I would have bolted far before the whole hair-grabbing incident. He was simply a disturbing character. Anyway, this movie was brilliant. I can't wait to watch it again!

Maggy

How can anyone call Poppy charming? I found her unbearably annoying, shallow and full of herself. As far as I'm concerned the driving instructor showed real restraint. Even I felt like smacking her 20 minutes into the film! Furthermore, I can't see where 20 seconds of shmaltzy "heartfelt" knowing looks inserted within a bombardment of mind numbingly boring cockney cliches can be equated with depth.

Anna

Truly brilliant. So thought provoking and brilliantly acted. My sort of fim. Well done.

Anna

Truly brilliant. So thought provoking and brilliantly acted. My sort of fim. Well done.

Whatalog

Awful. This film actually stressed me out watching it. I have no idea where this underlying sadness that poppy is supposed to have is. I found her to be one of the most unsympathetic characters ever commited to film. Patronising, ignorant and downright rude at times. I found myself rooting for the racist on the edge driving instructor because she was so dense and rude to him throughout! I found her to be a 2 dimensional creation to be honest and as for the film overall Im fighting to find any sort of message or real point to any of it. alot of the film felt a bit "tacked on" to me - Such as Scotts racist view - a ploy in which to demonise him and gain sympahty for her maybe? and the scene with the tramp - analyse it all you want and find it a scene in which we see poppy as truley caring and able to set this troubled mind at ease because she truly is compassionate and blah blah blah - if anything that scene is an insult to mental health and mental health carers as if they are missing a trick by not just being nice and communicating. Love Mike Leigh - a genius director and a living legend - but I can only put this films critical success down to emperors new clothes.

Vicker

I did not enjoy this film at all, although I had expected to enjoy it from the impressions given by the trailers... also because I enjoyed Secrets and Lies so much. But this film is NOT Secrets and Lies. I was really disappointed and was actually depressed by the film. The characters aren't developed, and the main character IS annoying, because she doesn't develop or do anything through the film. It was like spending time inside someone else's not-very-interesting life for 90 mins, There were promising bits, such as the visit to the pregnant sister, which recalled the familial angst of Secrets and Lies, but this was only a glimmer. The fact that the driving instructor was probably a serial killer in the making was made to appear irrelevant beside Poppy's glib and pointless existence. If only there was a bit more substance to her character then the film would have been worth watching... I imagine critics enjoyed it because this kind of mindless, pointless London life is the desirable norm amongst their ilk, and I was left feeling depressed by its hollowness.

anna

i cant believe the negative comments on this page. take the film for what it was - a light hearted account/ look in on a good natured HAPPY GO LUCKY person's life (there is a bit of a clue in the title oh great film critics!). she was a little annoying at times, but people are! But its usually those who come across as more superior than others that are much more irritating than a person who is harmless and caring like poppy! I thought it also kind of gave a good reflection of modern relationships and experiences. easy watching, admittedly, but it left me feeling pretty happy and gave me a few laughs along the way. i think this is all it was intending to do really. Made a nice end to my sunday eve - so thank you mr leigh!

Nixfromoz

This film celebrates a heart of not only happiness, but gratitude, faith and love. It should be a lesson to all that view it, especially those who dislike it. If more were to follow it's example, it would indeed cure most of the world's ills in today's society. Focusing on what is good and right in our lives is far more satisfying than devoting our thoughts to stress and negativity. Think about it. . .

Nixfromoz

This film celebrates a heart of not only happiness, but gratitude, faith and love. It should be a lesson to all that view it, especially those who dislike it. If more were to follow it's example, it would indeed cure most of the world's ills in today's society. Focusing on what is good and right in our lives is far more satisfying than devoting our thoughts to stress and negativity. Think about it. . .

Leslie R

The best actor in this film, Eddie Marsan, (the driving instructor) is going to be in the new Sherlock Holmes movie with Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. At least something good came out of this dreadful film!

Smola

It appears to me that the director had a girlfriend just like Poppy. I had one. It is very sad. Those persons deny everything and just keep smiling. They are very childish, and instead of taking responsibility, they take others' actions to be responsible. It was the sadest film I've ever watched. The driving-instructor character is irrelevant. The things he says about Poopy are! She is annoying and cannot interact with normal people, she turns everything to a joke. One cannot cope with this.

Smola

It appears to me that the director had a girlfriend just like Poppy. I had one. It is very sad. Those persons deny everything and just keep smiling. They are very childish, and instead of taking responsibility, they take others' actions to be responsible. It was the sadest film I've ever watched. The driving-instructor character is irrelevant. The things he says about Poopy are! She is annoying and cannot interact with normal people, she turns everything to a joke. One cannot cope with this.

mebo

This the most insipid movie I have evre seen.It was torure to sit through.

joe koza

the time out critic hits the nail on the head when he writes 'it aches with truth' It is a portrait, of a dippy, happy, individual who has a caring profound side to her. People who dont get it must have something profoundly lacking in themselves. This woman may be initially annoying but over the entire film, presents a rather sympathetic person, one who i would easily befriend, as she is what we all should be, HELPFUL and FRIENDLY!!!

joe koza

the time out critic hits the nail on the head when he writes 'it aches with truth' It is a portrait, of a dippy, happy, individual who has a caring profound side to her. People who dont get it must have something profoundly lacking in themselves. This woman may be initially annoying but over the entire film, presents a rather sympathetic person, one who i would easily befriend, as she is what we all should be, HELPFUL and FRIENDLY!!!

waste

This film is pure agony to sit through. If it were a book, nobody would read past the first 15 pages. If it were a documentary, nobody would care. But it's cinema, so critics get to say how great it is. Don't believe them. If you've lived through your 20's without getting married, you probably have a much more interesting story than that portrayed in this drivel-with-a-violin-soundtracked work. Waste of time. Needs a negative star rating.

David

This film is a delight and had me rolling around the floor laughing. Sally Hawkins has real talent.

David

This film is a delight and had me rolling around the floor laughing. Sally Hawkins has real talent.

Simon

Wow. What an appalling film. Poor acting, dialogue, characterisation and story. NOTHING happens, and you are not even left with any feeling for the main characters. I like trival, mundane stories of ordinary pepole. This film made Christmas at Eastenders believable! I guess that you would like it if this was you first experience of MOVING PICTURES ....

LizFish

my son and I found it intriguing - in that we were convinced that at some point things would happen to justify the incidedntal chit chat we'd tolerated. The person who gave me it said he'd laughed all the way through. We kept waiting for something funny, then when we got really fed up were longing for tragedy - convinced there was going to be some twist. The heroine seemed in denial rather than happy and positive --- i thought she was just showing everything to the back of her smile like old cheese in the fridge. The acting was OK particularly the driving instructor. Most scenes dragged on and on. Would be better as an ongoing tuesday night soap for people who wish tpo avoid provocation.

Gerhard

I have rolled around sleepless in my bed for nights wondering what good I can find to say about this movie. I can see what Mike Leigh's intention was. If I get this right then happiness is a decision we make. I want to be happy so I ’m going to be happy. For heavens sake did I have to sit through an hour and a half of senseless grins on Poppy’s face, unrealistically taking everything on the chin. Poppy then thankfully meets a Wallace look alike, stares gaumlessly into his face for what seemed like hours and then bonks him on first date. And what on earth happened to the poor little boy who got beaten up by the little bully? Was he was sacrificed on the altar of the liberal teachers association. And the tramp scene! What for? This was simply the most excruciatingly boring and irritating movie I’ve ever seen. I can see what the intention was

Wexel

Terminally annoying. Mike Leigh and some reviewers here appear to believe that the only choices in life are self-absorbed, Bubbly-on-steroids Polly or pathetic Scot and equally pathetic Polly's pregnant sister. That's true only simply-minded movies, like this one.

kill me now

Absolute trash.This movie could have starred Hannah Montana.Hard to find anything entertaining.All in all on par with a 3rd rate sitcom.

Rob.

Just a quick note to say that it strikes me as ironic that the people who stand to gain the most from this film are seemingly those least likely to 'get it'.

Rob.

Just a quick note to say that it strikes me as ironic that the people who stand to gain the most from this film are seemingly those least likely to 'get it'.

jobyjak

The genius of this film lies in the fact that it is so hard to be happy, genuinely happy, not happy to get something in return, just quite simply happy. The reason it is so unbelievable is more a reflection on society than on Poppy's character. The film is one of the uniquest I've seen for a while, and that can only be a good thing, but it is far from perfect.

Chakorn

I like the plot that showed most people around Poppy are realistically unhappy. I also like the arguments that supported why most people in societies become unhappy. Certainly Sally Hawkins delivered the messages within the film absolutely well. I enjoyed her acting. However, I don't like the so unrealistic character of Poppy's since it's very hard for one to believe that a person like Poppy could be real, especially in someone living in London.

Chakorn

I like the plot that showed most people around Poppy are realistically unhappy. I also like the arguments that supported why most people in societies become unhappy. Certainly Sally Hawkins delivered the messages within the film absolutely well. I enjoyed her acting. However, I don't like the so unrealistic character of Poppy's since it's very hard for one to believe that a person like Poppy could be real, especially in someone living in London.

Roberto Olivero, USA

Great film making, again from Mr. Leigh. Inspiring, the portrayal of a truly well-adjusted female protagonist who is both child-like and competent, able to stand her ground, confront life's challenges & adversities without loosing her sense of self, and embrace life's opportunities whole-heartedly. We owe Mr. Leigh one huge THANK YOU for giving us Poppy, a true hero.

Roberto Olivero, USA

Great film making, again from Mr. Leigh. Inspiring, the portrayal of a truly well-adjusted female protagonist who is both child-like and competent, able to stand her ground, confront life's challenges & adversities without loosing her sense of self, and embrace life's opportunities whole-heartedly. We owe Mr. Leigh one huge THANK YOU for giving us Poppy, a true hero.

Tom Russell

Thank you for your negative reviews of this film. They really helped to clarify why I identified so much with this film. Grumpy, self absorbed people started to ironically turn me into a "Scott". I loved this film because of the acting and it's simple question. Life is short, would you rather be a "Poppy" or a "Scott"? I live in the USA, believe me, "Scotts" suck! See Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, etc. Negativity=Death

Tom Russell

Thank you for your negative reviews of this film. They really helped to clarify why I identified so much with this film. Grumpy, self absorbed people started to ironically turn me into a "Scott". I loved this film because of the acting and it's simple question. Life is short, would you rather be a "Poppy" or a "Scott"? I live in the USA, believe me, "Scotts" suck! See Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, etc. Negativity=Death

SusanA

Those who were looking for a plot didn't understand that this was a character study movie. The more I think about it the more I love it. While Poppy IS annoying, I was relieved to learn that she wasn't masking some deep unhappiness, she wasn't, as Scott accused, focused on everyone liking her, she just honestly wanted to make other people happy - her students, her sisters, the homeless guy, and although it backfired horribly, Scott. But she clearly knew how to handle him when he got out of control. Funny how her optimism makes some people so ANGRY.

SusanA

Those who were looking for a plot didn't understand that this was a character study movie. The more I think about it the more I love it. While Poppy IS annoying, I was relieved to learn that she wasn't masking some deep unhappiness, she wasn't, as Scott accused, focused on everyone liking her, she just honestly wanted to make other people happy - her students, her sisters, the homeless guy, and although it backfired horribly, Scott. But she clearly knew how to handle him when he got out of control. Funny how her optimism makes some people so ANGRY.

Julio

I posted a slightly shorter, less articulate note about 3 weeks ago, let me just repeat it better, on hindisght:) It gets six stars from me because I see Poppy as a very alive human being- who is very child-like (irrepressibly) but in a good way, that does not preclude the fact that as a person she is also more adult than some of the characters she meets along her 'way'... But it is a study in human temerament - as a lot of leigh's films also are...: the difference of hers and the driving-instructor is excruciating, but she seems to accept and understand him (and not- evidently vice versa). Her temperament is very apt for being a primary school-teacher (as I said, she has a deep, caring, compassionate adult side, that prob can be very mature)... And the people who do not like it, nor think that her interactions are 'real' (I think they are very genuine and believable) have a different temperament that just cannot trust this way-of-being which I feel - as others evidently so- is a shame, It shows where one is perhaps 'blocked', cos if she was your child (2 grow up into a person like this), wouldn't you love her?... But perhaps this is the bias of my temperament... Don't know if I can put this point very well... it is delicate...

Julio

I posted a slightly shorter, less articulate note about 3 weeks ago, let me just repeat it better, on hindisght:) It gets six stars from me because I see Poppy as a very alive human being- who is very child-like (irrepressibly) but in a good way, that does not preclude the fact that as a person she is also more adult than some of the characters she meets along her 'way'... But it is a study in human temerament - as a lot of leigh's films also are...: the difference of hers and the driving-instructor is excruciating, but she seems to accept and understand him (and not- evidently vice versa). Her temperament is very apt for being a primary school-teacher (as I said, she has a deep, caring, compassionate adult side, that prob can be very mature)... And the people who do not like it, nor think that her interactions are 'real' (I think they are very genuine and believable) have a different temperament that just cannot trust this way-of-being which I feel - as others evidently so- is a shame, It shows where one is perhaps 'blocked', cos if she was your child (2 grow up into a person like this), wouldn't you love her?... But perhaps this is the bias of my temperament... Don't know if I can put this point very well... it is delicate...

JonoD

Really struggled with this movie. Like other reviewers found the banter between characters rushed, false and cheesy. I alos found the main character Poppy to be particulary agonising to watch. Both she and the story we felt were one dimensional. We were ple3ading for it to go anywhere. Felt embarisewd that I had made other people watch this movie and would not recomend it to anyone, Not for me.

joe

diane the psychotherapist misses the point. why go into psychobabble just let the music of the film take you instead of thinking in terms of poppy being "a defensive mechanism" just look at those previous words, where is our lost innocence? and weep!

joe

diane the psychotherapist misses the point. why go into psychobabble just let the music of the film take you instead of thinking in terms of poppy being "a defensive mechanism" just look at those previous words, where is our lost innocence? and weep!

Juha Hyrsky, Finland

A wonderful, wonderful film! A Leigh classic just because who succeeds in being different and still concentrating on genuine Leigh themes. Or THE theme: what is it to be happy and what is it NOT to be happy.

Juha Hyrsky, Finland

A wonderful, wonderful film! A Leigh classic just because who succeeds in being different and still concentrating on genuine Leigh themes. Or THE theme: what is it to be happy and what is it NOT to be happy.

ecbian

A wonderful, life affirming film. I feel sorry for those who don't get it. Maybe they are all relatives of the Scott the driving instructor! Magnificent performances from all and especially Sally Hawkins as the wonderful Poppy. Optimists of the world unite, and don't let the self-important "drearies" either get you down or stop you seeing this gem.

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