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Story

This early Mike Leigh film was made for British television in 1983 (released theatrically in 1985), and introduced both Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. Set in the Thatcher era, the story--typically for Leigh--is more a matter of dramatic evolution than a conventionally realized script. The action revolves around a middle-class family whose male members are all on the government dole, and whose matriarch (Marion Bailey) is long-suffering in the sight of her two sons, one a half-wit (Roth) and the other a cynical bum (Phil Daniels). Oldman plays the latter's skinhead pal, mostly a goof with no future, and Alfred Molina portrays a relative of the brothers strongly resistant to nudging their lives in a more constructive direction. The story, such as it is, is actually a series of discrete, deceptively unambitious, and highly entertaining scenes that could just as easily stand on their own as belong to some greater whole. Leigh, not quite fully baked as a filmmaker in the early 1980s, occasionally engages a rather obvious wit, such as shooting a long take in a laundry room from an angle that favors the sight of a washing machine and ignores the characters from the waist up. The remarkable actors, however, are as deeply immersed in their roles as in any of Leigh's work, and the film is ultimately as moving and funny as one expects from this unique director. --Tom Keogh

Cast

Phil DanielsMark
Tim RothColin
Pam FerrisMavis
Alfred MolinaJohn
Gary OldmanCoxy
Marion BaileyBarbara
Jeffrey RobertFrank

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Mike Leigh
  • Producer: Wellspring
  • Length: 90 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaJan 1, 1981
  • Ratings
    Europe15
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