Mike Leigh describes this film (his first for the big screen since his debut in 1971 with Bleak Moments) as his most optimistic work to date; and in the splendidly unfashionable figures of Cyril and Shirley (Davis and Sheen), two down-market residents of old King's Cross, comes an enormous upsurge of warmth, despite Cyril's continuing confusion on the subject of procreation in a divided world. Less successful are the nastier creations of Leigh's blend of improvisation and script: the monstrous car salesman Martin and his consumerist spouse (Jackson and Tobias); two yuppie neighbours played by Bamber and Manville with a permanent sneer on their minds. But in the figure which draws all these strands together for a very amusing birthday party, Cyril's ageing and indomitable mum (Doré), he offers a superbly crafted and unsentimentalised study of age and survival. Very long, prone to the longueur, but finally triumphant in its sombre, raw meditation on how we live.
Cast and crew