Saturday, January 9, 2010

Julia watches a movie!

Who is Julia? She runs a Manual Therapy Osteopathy practice on the third floor above Gen X and sometimes finds time to watch a movie or two. She was feeling left out by all of the movie reviews so she sent this one to be put up on the site!

All or Nothing (2002) (dir: Mike Leigh)

If you are looking for simple, light entertainment, I would suggest avoiding British director Mike Leigh’s entire canon. If you’re okay with cringeworthy silences punctuated by bursts of gut-wrenching emotion, “All or Nothing” is just the ticket.

Set in a working-class housing estate in South London, All or Nothing is just that, about everything and nothing. Timothy Spall (who Harry Potter fans will recognize as Wormtail) and Lesley Manville (previously unknown to me but reportedly Gary Oldman’s first ex-wife) head up an ensemble cast of Leigh regulars, starring as Phil and Penny Bassett, a hapless, dreamy cabbie and a harried supermarket cashier. These two seem to bump along politely enough, but have little to do with or say to one another until unexpected tragedy prods them into airing their long-suppressed grievances—in one of Leigh’s trademark, agonizingly-long, single takes.

In his own words, Leigh “remain(s) the guy with no script, who is very unforthcoming about what the film will be about,” and his actors, who have at best a general sense of the way the story line is meant to go, improvise stoically on camera. And, it works, without feeling forced or contrived.

In spite of the overall bleak plot lines (the back story is filled in with boredom-spurred sex and/or violence; alcoholism; and unplanned, unwanted pregnancy), the film somehow leaves you feeling hopeful—or maybe just hoping that things will somehow get better for this sad collection of souls.

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