Learn more about this title's writer and director in as we put Mike Leigh In the Director's Chair...
Spall's cabbie is too gentle and thoughtful to be described as a slob, but his lack of even the most basic ambition and stoic non-resistance to life has created an unspoken rift between him and wife Penny (Lesley Manville). Working on a supermarket checkout, she must cook dinner and fend off insults from her fat, frustrated, obnoxious 18-year-old son Rory. She receives only passive sympathy from her older daughter Rachel. Only when Rory is taken ill is Phil snapped out of his torpor as the family pull together.
A host of minor characters also feature; fatuous cabbie Ron (Paul Jesson) his alcoholic wife and sluttish daughter, as well as the wonderfully good-humoured and resilient Maureen, Penny's best friend, concerned at her daughter's relationship with a violent boyfriend. Once accused of caricaturing his "lower class" characters, here Leigh (with the collaborative assistance of his actors) exhibits them in all their authentic complexity, neither idealising nor sentimentalising them.
On the DVD: All or Nothing's extras include the original trailer, as well as interviews with several members of the cast. Timothy Spall is interesting on the unnerving process of collaboration favoured by Leigh, whereby characters are "built from zero" by the actors. The smart and rather posh Lesley Manville strikes quite a contrast in real life with her mousey, put-upon character. There's also a meticulous and absorbing commentary from Mike Leigh, who talks about filming in Greenwich and how he has moved away from some of the more dogmatic ideas about filmmaking of his earlier, avant-garde days. --David Stubbs
This is not Saturday night at the movies stuff, but what do you expect from Mike Leigh? Instead, this is a brilliant and moving character study, with absolutely first class acting throughout, especially from the two lead characters played by Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville. The look (and sound) of the film is fittingly sober, plain and sensitive. The story plays out in a run-down estate in South East London (Greenwich apparently), but could be set anywhere really.
The excellent commentary from Mike Leigh himself is a real treat, and is worthy of a listen, especially if you're interested in the art of filmmaking. Leigh (as usual) takes great delight and obvious pride in describing various aspects about the movie, from the outstanding cast, to the variety of other talented people who put this film together.
I can't see myself watching this film too many times, as like I say, it's not exactly a feel-good movie. Building up slowly, and finishing relatively abruptly, this movie takes a bit of patience and is pretty emotionally draining to watch as well. But it is worth a repeat viewing or two simply to revel in the brilliance of the acting talent on show here. There are very few laughs in this movie... it even makes 'Secrets and Lies' look like a laugh-riot in comparison, but ultimately this film has hope and reconcilliation as it's take home messages, and as such is a fairly uplifting film despite being desperately sad in places.
This film may not impress the Jonathon Ross's of this world, but it sure as hell impressed me (and the judges at the Cannes Film Festival who nominated it for the Palme D'Or in 2002)... but don't take my word for it (or Jonathon Ross's).. watch, learn, and be moved.
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