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Vera Drake [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Imelda Staunton, Philip Davis, Jim Broadbent
  • Directors: Mike Leigh
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Momentum Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 25 April 2005
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007OEMBW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,385 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Imelda Staunton stars as Vera Drake, a woman devoted completely to her working class family. She spends her time caring for her elderly mother and sick neighbour, but also secretly visits women with unwanted pregnancies, helping them induce miscarriage. With this practice illegal in 1950s England, Vera finds her life fall apart when the authorities find out.


The brilliant writer-director Mike Leigh (Topsy-Turvy, Secrets and Lies, Naked) has crafted an utterly compelling movie about one of the most controversial of topics. An irrepressibly hopeful housecleaner in 1950s London named Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton, Antonia and Jane, Shakespeare in Love) mothers everyone around her, from her own family to helpless shut-ins and lonely men living in tiny, isolated apartments. None of these people know that Vera also helps young women get rid of unwanted pregnancies, until the police appear and tear her world apart. Vera Drake isn't just an inspired character portrait; through simple and straightforward scenes, the movie weaves a quiet but mesmerizing portrait of how people--both wealthy and poor--cope with adversity. Though wrenching, Vera Drake has too much life to be depressing. Leigh is deservedly famous for his work with actors; every character brims with truth and Staunton's performance deserves every award it could possibly win. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dorie on 16 May 2005
Format: DVD
This is an important movie about the moral dilemma posed by abortion. Abortions, legal or illegal, have always been performed, and women from all social strata, have always found themselves in need of a helping hand, whether the law upheld that kind of help at particular times or not. The movie shows this by juxtaposing the women whom Vera Drake helps, who cannot pay for abortion, with those who can pay to have an abortion done by a doctor, or by showing that in some cases at least, abortion cannot be totally repudiated. We witness two such cases in the film as one woman becomes pregnant, we understand, after a man forces himself on her, or as another woman, who already has seven children, and whose husband just doesn't understand how consuming this is, cannot have an eighth. The film convincingly shows how women have to deal with their problems in secrecy, in back chambers, and continue to live life as usual and pretend that these things don't happen.

Vera Drake is a kind and generous woman, too kind and too generous, the movie shows, for the world surrounding her, the cruelty of which is encapsulated in the woman who procures "clients" for her, pocketing money from these women without Vera's knowledge, as well as doing Vera the favour of selling her various food products (such as sugar) of which, we understand, there was a shortage in those postwar years.
Imelda Staunton gives an overwhelming performance, exhibiting Vera's kindness, reliability, generosity, naivete, heartbreak, sense of shame, and, finally, despair, with great credibility. I agree with some of the other reviewers who state that the movie doesn't try to take sides.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Nov 2007
Format: DVD
In 1950 London, Vera Drake is a middle-aged, working-class woman who cleans the homes of the wealthy, takes care of her family, looks after her infirm mother...she's a woman who cares for people and seems able to work hard and stay cheerful. She also peforms abortions on young women who "have gotten in trouble." Abortion was illegal then in Britain, and a woman's choice was to bear the child, have an abortion safely and expensively by doctors secretly servicing a well-off clientel, or to take her chances with people who quite likely would use hooks and metal hangers. Vera uses lye soap, disenfectant and water. The women she helps are almost always poor with no one to help, no resources to call on, and whose lives would be devastated without Vera Drake. She's been doing so for years and her family doesn't suspect. She doesn't charge a dime. Her concern is for these young women who have few choices left to them. But one abortion goes wrong. She's caught, and her life and her family start to come apart.

This is a powerful film with an absolutely gripping performance by Imelda Staunton. The film is less about what she does than about who she is and why she does what she does. Staunton is on screen most of the time. She's amazing.

Just about as amazing are the performances of everyone else in the cast. I recognized only three names. Where Britain comes up with actors who are so completely real in their parts is one of the wonders of the world. The actors who play Drake's family, her daughter's fiance, and her brother-in-law and his wife bring so much depth to their roles they just about match Staunton.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie on 14 Jun 2005
Format: DVD
I add my voice to the swell of others who have acclaimed Mike Leigh's powerful period piece, "Vera Drake," as an extraordinary film. Writer-director Leigh, ("Topsy Turvy," "Secrets and Lies"), is one of the most consistent forces working in cinema today, and seems to have a magic touch with his actors, especially when working with morally complex drama. Imelda Staunton, as "Vera Drake" gives one of the most brilliant, and accomplished performances I have seen by an actor on the large screen, and her role is an emotionally wrenching one. The subject matter of this 1950's based drama is highly controversial - abortion. Yet, as difficult as the material is, Leigh and Ms. Staunton are able to make some powerful statements without taking a position. Leigh doesn't delve into the morality aspect of the issue. Instead he explores how the disclosure of Vera's illegal acts impacts the lives of the people who care for her and depend upon her.
Vera works hard as a domestic servant in post WWII London. A tiny woman, she is a bundle of energy and optimism who exudes warmth and compassion. With great sincerity, she unstintingly gives of herself and her time to help others. She continually looks in on family and neighbors, especially the elderly and infirm, to make sure they have what they need. Vera is the backbone of her family, which includes her adoring husband, Stan (Phil Davis), son Sid, (Daniel Mays), a tailor who fancies himself a man about town, and daughter Ethel, (Alex Kelly), a timid factory worker. Vera is their hearthstone, and the person who truly lights up their lives, a solid presence, full of good cheer and the ever present cuppa.
Unbeknownst to those who love her, Vera has been "helping-out young women" for years. She assists them to end their unwanted pregnancies.
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