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Life Is Sweet [Blu-ray]

Part of our Two Blu-ray for £10 offer*

Alison Steadman , Jim Broadbent , Mike Leigh    Suitable for 15 years and over   Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
Price: 6.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Life Is Sweet [Blu-ray] + High Hopes (Mike Leigh's) [Blu-ray] [1988]
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Product details

  • Actors: Alison Steadman, Jim Broadbent, Claire Skinner, Jane Horrocks, Timothy Spall
  • Directors: Mike Leigh
  • Writers: Mike Leigh
  • Producers: Simon Channing Williams
  • Format: Colour
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Film 4
  • DVD Release Date: 28 May 2012
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007E88OMC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,642 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Life is Sweet, Mike Leigh's 1990 snapshot of the suburban family condition at the tail end of the Thatcher era, is often depressing and occasionally harrowing. It is also ultimately joyous, not just for the sharpness of Leigh's satire--the script was improvised with and by the cast--but also for the real affection that binds the family together. Through a series of minor crises, channels of communication silted up by the daily grind and terminal self-absorption are gradually eased open and the film ends on a note of genuine hope.

As parents Wendy and Andy, Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent give virtuoso performances: two adults who use fantasy, mundane work and a stream of banal chatter to keep reality at bay before a freak kitchen accident forces them to stop and take stock. They have two daughters to perplex them: one a plumber (Claire Skinner) and the other an angry anorexic (Jane Horrocks, unsparing in a gut-wrenching bulimic scene). Timothy Spall is hilarious as family friend Aubrey, a would-be restaurateur whose efforts to establish a gourmet eatery in Enfield collapse in hopeless, drunken farce. This is not an overtly political film, but the sense of a stake being driven through the heart of the 1980s enterprise culture is unmistakeable. Inspiring. --Piers Ford

Product Description

Mike Leigh's acclaimed social comedy is set in a lower-middle class household in a London suburb. Parents Wendy (Alison Steadman) and Andy (Jim Broadbent) and their twin daughters Natalie (Claire Skinner) and Nicola (Jane Horrocks) are a modern family at odds with itself. Whilst Natalie quietly focuses on progressing into the plumbing industry, bulimic Nicola grows increasingly sullen and misanthropic.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Watch out for an early appearence by Jane Horrocks as anorexic/agoraphobic Natalie in a family as dysfunctional as any you've ever known. Mike Leigh directs this brilliant sprawling drama with understated aplomb,following four people united by a surname and divided by their differing personalities in a hot London summer. Meet their friends and lovers, take a peek at their jobs and get a taste of working class life. The only change is that instead of staid TV stereotypes you will see people as they really are --- funnier and sadder --- and that perhaps is what we can learn from the film. There is no story as such .... just a chaotic effort by Alison Steadman and Jim Broadbent to survive one week to the next and understand their twin daughters as they surface into the adult world. Everything is here; angst, poverty, mental illness and Timothy Spall as Aubrey, New Britains most unsuccesful entrepreneur who opens a restaurant, with no regrets except that no one turns up on it"s opening night! It's hankie time though when Mother and unhappy daughter finally face a few home truths.... You'll laugh, cry and think about the issues cleverly raised by this picture.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful Quality Blu-Ray 16 April 2013
By Lozzy
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I bought this on Blu-Ray having bought the DVD and being a big fan of Mike Leigh's work. The DVD edition isn't desperately good quality and that's sort of forgiveable for niche films like this, but the Blu-Ray looks NO BETTER! And that is inexcusable. An obvious rush to re-release exactly the same material on another format purely to rake in the cash. Very poor...
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and heart-rending 10 April 2009
By Sd May
'Life is sweet/bittersweet...' Maria Mckee wrote the great title song of her brilliant solo album after seeing this film, and this is a film full of sweet moments that will also leave you feeling hollowed out by the end. Alison Steadman is the irrepressibly optimistic matriach of an ordinary lower middle class family. Husband Jim Broadbent has a million plans and schemes to escape his job, none of which will come to fruition. Jane Horrocks is the unhappy bulemic daughter whose nervy misery is contrasted with the sensible thoughtfulness of her twin played by Clare Skinner. David Thewlis is her the cruel boyfriend who grows fed up of licking chocolate spread from Jane Horrocks breasts (is he mad?) Timothy Spall turns in a marvellous performance as the deluded, predatory and pathetic would-be restauranter and the film works as a beautifully constructed ensemble piece about the necessity of dreams and the power of family bonds. I often cry at films - I cried at three separate moments in thsi one. Required viewing for all aspiring British film-makers. And, yes that means you Richard Curtis - you could learn a thing or three from this...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life is quite sweet 24 Nov 2010
By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER
Life is Sweet was the first Leigh film I saw, about 6 years ago. I recently settled to reacquaint myself with Leigh's regular team of character actors. I've seen all his films subsequently and have a feel of his breadth of work, from tragicomedy to drama.

As such, I found the characters' mannerisms and foibles to be grating and really quite irritating, as if they'd been overacted, or misjudged. At least, at first.

Then, as with any family that open their front door to you and until you see and hear how they click and survive as a family unit, you really do wonder what you've let yourself in for.

So, having 'moved in', within 15 minutes I was warming to them. Ten more and I felt I knew them and was totally immersed in their humour and lives. I'm still surprised as to how political and social statements from the late '80's (as well as a trip down memory lane; rusty Ford Escorts and shell suits) manifest themselves through the cast. Bit like the kitchen sink dramas of the '60's but without the grainy black & white, the grime and grouchy men hitting womenfolk. Leigh's canvas is much wider and behind everyday doors in everyday streets lie the often dismissed emotional and confused pains of modern life. Ordinary people whose problems seem to be teetering on the edge and to them, unique.

The acting in those more poignant scenes is, as I sometimes describe, natural, as is. As you'd expect a real person to do.

With some broad humour, wit and a brisk pace this is still a sparkling snapshot of British semi-suburbia twenty years ago. Nothing too shocking or gratuitous. Not the red-hot, pure grit of hard unemployment of Shane Meadows but the sort of folk we know about, or of, who work alongside us, holding the country together. Somehow.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film with faithful transfer on Blu-ray 2 Jun 2012
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Was a little apprehensive when I saw the low resolution logos and clips from other Film 4 titles preceding the main menu, but most relieved to see that this has an authentic transfer. The Blu-ray disc is single-layered with bit-rates in the mid-20's. This was a low budget production and this edition looks just as it appeared projected in cinemas. No obvious digital nose reduction nor other annoying efforts have been applied to try and "improve" the picture, which is naturally very grainy, having been shot on 16 mm. The sound is a rather feeble 2-channel Dolby Digital - but again: this is a Mike Leigh film from 1990, not something directed by David Fincher last year. The English subtitles are good. The disc is region free. This is how Fabulous Films should have done their remarkably poor edition of High Hopes. Sadly, no extras.

Edit 16 February 2013: Now Criterion are putting this out with a commentary from Mike Leigh. That one will be the edition to get.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Leigh -- the Chekov of British cinema?
Not too long ago, I watched "Another Year." and I liked it a bit better than "Life is Sweet," though that might just be because the characters in "Another Year" are closer to my... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stanley Crowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very happy with product and seller
Published 1 month ago by Miss L M Willis
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 1 month ago by 4th Earl
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Leigh - another very interesting play
Enjoyable characters as usual with Mike Leigh, acted by some British greats. This should be on everyone's "must see" list it shows British life and characters of their time... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian Butterly
5.0 out of 5 stars And so is this film
As a fan of a mike Leigh and Alison Steadman I find it difficult to be entirely objective. But Leigh's observations are acute and his techniques really work. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brian Last
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear
Why did I waste my money on this film? I ask myself over and over again. Absoutley terrible. Too much swearing and just a waste of time
Published 6 months ago by Springermad
5.0 out of 5 stars It hurts when I laugh
That's the whole point of Mike Leigh's films, isn't i? . The situations are so funny but at the same time so painful that you feel that you have been through a wringer. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Traveller
4.0 out of 5 stars Very witty
Great acting and very witty. Great Mike Leigh, never disappoints. I nearly didnt recognise the young actresses in this. Superb
Published 14 months ago by EAP of B
What a cast... what a waste, I have watched films from this director before and I know they can be a little off the wall, but this really was much ado about nothing. Read more
Published 15 months ago by avid ravid
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet sweet sweet!
Its lovely i loved the family they were so dis functional but to me completely normal and wonder to see on screen it reminds you of the things that are important in life i. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Neil Horn
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