Life Is Sweet

A splendid follow-up to High Hopes, in which Leigh's improvisational method achieves symmetry in the form of two very different chefs and twin daughters who are very different from their indomitably normal parents. Andy (Broadbent), is a good-natured cook with an ambition to run his own business from a disgusting mobile snack-bar flogged to him by a drunken mate (Rea); Aubrey (Spall) is a clueless fatty with a desire to be supercool, mastermind of a disastrous venture to bring gourmet cooking to Enfield. Offering such hideous fare as liver in lager and duck in chocolate sauce, Aubrey ropes in Andy's innuendo-prone wife Wendy (Steadman) as a replacement waitress. While the restaurant opening provides narrative focus, Leigh divides his interest between this and the plight of Andy and Wendy's teenage daughters, one (Skinner) a tomboy plumber, the other (Horrocks) an antisocial anorexic whose only enthusiasms are bulimic binges and casual sex with the aid of a jar of peanut butter. Despite two performances of insufficient conviction (Spall and Horrocks), the film is magnificent, mixing enormous fun with sad, serious subjects: the enterprise rip-off, adolescent despair, parents' lost dreams for their children, role-playing, the gutsy optimism of decent, ordinary humanity (represented by Broadbent and Steadman in two stunningly unflashy performances).

Release details

Rated: 15
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mike Leigh
Screenwriter: Mike Leigh
Cast: Alison Steadman
Jim Broadbent
Claire Skinner
Jane Horrocks
Stephen Rea
Timothy Spall
David Thewlis
Moya Brady

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Aidan

mr grumpy lives up to his name it seems. Mike Leigh's best film in mu opinion and anything but depressing - Alison Steadman is wonderful.

Aidan

mr grumpy lives up to his name it seems. Mike Leigh's best film in mu opinion and anything but depressing - Alison Steadman is wonderful.

mr grumpy

I know many people regard Mike Leigh as a sort of genius....but quite frankly this film says everything that is wrong about the over-subsidised, self-obsessed British Film industry. Depressing banal pseud-ish drivel, and explains why the US film industry remains so strong and popular. This is art that is all about the self-indulgence of the producer and performers, and not at all about the audience.

mr grumpy

I know many people regard Mike Leigh as a sort of genius....but quite frankly this film says everything that is wrong about the over-subsidised, self-obsessed British Film industry. Depressing banal pseud-ish drivel, and explains why the US film industry remains so strong and popular. This is art that is all about the self-indulgence of the producer and performers, and not at all about the audience.