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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real life, no frills
Mike Leigh's 'All or Nothing' is a film all about emotions, and how deeply emotional ties within families can run just inches below the surface of everyday life. This is a study of real life, with no frills, and no need for a sensational story or events. Indeed, as such, it is a touch on the heavy-going side, and at times it is pretty depressing stuff... but that is...
Published on 7 July 2003 by Touring Mars

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like a Mike Leigh parody...
Life is Sweet, Secrets & Lies, Naked - I mention these particular films of Leigh because they are all brilliantly contemporary in their own way -films with real heart, guts and soul. But All Or Nothing doesn't rank among these - it doesn't even come close.

There is no or little plot and maybe that's the point - just an impressonistic view of lonely and...
Published on 11 July 2009 by hermie wicked


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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real life, no frills, 7 July 2003
By 
Touring Mars (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Mike Leigh's 'All or Nothing' is a film all about emotions, and how deeply emotional ties within families can run just inches below the surface of everyday life. This is a study of real life, with no frills, and no need for a sensational story or events. Indeed, as such, it is a touch on the heavy-going side, and at times it is pretty depressing stuff... but that is because of the range of emotions that the film explores... loneliness (even within marraige), desperation and hopelessness, the humilation of having to scrape a living and have nothing left at the end of the month, and the sadness of watching love fade. On a par with some of Ken Loach's work, this movie could have been called any number of things, ('Life Is Hard' perhaps??), but is called 'All or Nothing' simply because that is how Phil feels about his faded relationship with his wife. Struggling through life day-to-day, he finally realises that it is the fact that his wife no longer loves him that is the cause of his 'thousand-yard stare', and that he finds the thought of life without her love unbearable. The depth and power of his emotions when he finally confronts his wife about whether she loves him anymore is conveyed perfectly by the two principal actors. Their embrace near the end of the film is one of true passion, and is a hugely emotional and perfectly played scene.
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like a Mike Leigh parody..., 11 July 2009
This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
Life is Sweet, Secrets & Lies, Naked - I mention these particular films of Leigh because they are all brilliantly contemporary in their own way -films with real heart, guts and soul. But All Or Nothing doesn't rank among these - it doesn't even come close.

There is no or little plot and maybe that's the point - just an impressonistic view of lonely and desperate lives. But what I felt this mostly suffered from a lack of real characters. Instead the film presented one-dimensional - and frankly annoying types. Lesley Manville (a great actress) was mostly winsome and whiny and Timothy Spall (like Manville, generally always excellent) was detached and eternally self-pitying. And the younger characters - except heart-of-gold cleaner Rachel, a performance of great subtlety by Alison Garland - were even worse, angry teenage stereotypes. And all deliver cliched stilted dialogue, the worst I've heard in a Mike Leigh film. This is a shame because the big emotional climax - that Mike Leigh stalwart - doesn't pack the punch it should. Most of all, All Or Nothing lacks purpose - and because of this, it almost feels like a Mike Leigh film by numbers. Watching this, I felt distanced - none of it felt realistic and all the swearing (that is supposed to represent "real dialogue"), anger and shouting made little difference. Bleak? Tedious, more like.

Watch Nil By Mouth to see how London working class depseration should be done, a film that feels like it really has something to say. Strong characters, brilliant performances, kick in the gut scenes and in the end genuine heart.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Count your blessings !, 4 Feb 2007
By 
This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
I am a big fan of Mike Leigh films. All or Nothing really makes you think there is always someone else worse off. It is based on a depressing council estate with some wonderful true to life characters. The acting is superb and having seen the special features I have even more admiration as they didn't work off a script - it was improvised!

Although I wouldn't rate it as high as Mike Keigh's previous film 'Secret & Lies, it is still one to watch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leigh's Powerful, Humane Drama, 11 Jun 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
Mike Leigh's 2002 film All Or Nothing is another extraordinary film from this master film-maker, portraying as it does a relatively short episode in the lives of a number of working class (largely dysfunctional) families living on a run-down (high-rise) housing estate (shot in a disused estate in Greenwich, in fact). Leigh's film is extraordinary in the context of modern cinema fare (though not, of course, in relation to his own work) because it focuses its story on the lives of real people having to deal with real-life problems. Indeed, not only do Leigh's characters mirror real life, but (largely due to his trademark method of film-making whereby his actors spend extended periods actually living their characters' back-stories) the acting performances in All Or Nothing are totally authentic and convincing.

All Or Nothing focuses on the story of unmarried couple Phil and Penny Bassett, he a reserved (and frequently philosophical) mini-cab driver, and she a shy mother of two, who works on the tills at the supermarket. Leigh has cast two of his most gifted (and frequent) collaborators in these central roles, Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville, and they deliver two of their best ever performances in this film (for me, Manville has only ever been better in Leigh's Topsy-Turvy). Phil and Penny are two of life's 'good guys', well-meaning, kind and considerate, but also struggling to survive both economically (as Phil digs behind the sofa in search of lost coins with which to settle his debts) and emotionally - and the drudgery of everyday life has taken its toll on their love for one another. Leigh brilliantly depicts Phil's musings on (and often despair with) life as the cab driver is shown ferrying around drunks, violent racists, a widow visiting his wife's grave, screaming kids, and an upper class Frenchwoman (off to the opera), whose own marital separation indicates to Phil that lack of money is not necessarily the source of his problems. The head-on shots of Spall's staring face as he contemplates life are quite mesmerising.

In addition to the Phil and Penny characters, Leigh has (typically) assembled an impressive array of acting talent (some Leigh regulars, many not). As the central couple's children, Leigh has cast newcomers James Corden as the obese, unemployed, rebellious Rory, and Alison Garland as the reserved, old peoples' home cleaner Rachel - both are excellent. For me, another standout performance is that of Leigh-regular (and often overlooked talent) Ruth Sheen as Penny's friend, co-worker and single mother Maureen. Sheen is simply brilliant, alternating between moments of great comedy (which are rare in All Or Nothing) and pathos - as she jokes and then sympathises with daughter Donna (another great early performance by Helen Coker) who is suffering at the hands of her boyfriend Jason (brilliantly played by now-Leigh regular Daniel Mays). Leigh has accurately caught the tone of noughties British urban youth as Donna and tarty neighbour Samantha (yet another top debut performance from Sally Hawkins) jealously argue (straight out of Catherine Tate), and in the exchanges between Donna and Jason (which includes the hilarious exchange, 'I want you to swear on your mother's grave', 'She ain't dead yet'). The final mention on the acting front should go to Marion Bailey as Samantha's mother Carol - a character that is, in effect, the adult equivalent of Corden's Rory, lying around on the sofa all-day (in her case, completely plastered) or embarrassing her friends during the pub karaoke competition. Bailey, of course featured in Leigh's earlier film Meantime, and indeed you can almost imagine the earlier Barbara character developing into this latter day alcoholic (albeit without the social pretensions).

In fact, on the subject of Meantime, for me, All Or Nothing is at times reminiscent of this early Leigh masterpiece in the way that it focuses in uncompromising fashion on a central dysfunctional family (as opposed, for example, to the rather more sympathetic, and comedic, family portrayal contained in Life Is Sweet). Specifically, in All Or Nothing Ben Crompton's portrayal as the outwardly backward character Craig who is infatuated with Hawkins' Samantha is similar to Tim Roth's character portrayal and his infatuation with the Tilley Vosburgh character in the earlier film.

For me, All Or Nothing is a film (like a number of other Leigh films, in fact) which reveals itself on repeat viewings, and, whilst I would not rate it as highly as Meantime, Topsy-Turvy, Secrets And Lies or Naked, it is another essential Leigh film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars overwhelming emotion, 30 May 2012
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
I'm not normally especially keen on Mike Leigh films, but this one is the best, for me, and I'm convinced it is a masterpiece. The empathy for the characters is unambiguous, particularly the married couple at the heart of it. Timothy Spall has been an anchor in other Leigh films, but here he gives the performance of a lifetime, making us feel the depth of sadness and disillusion of this taxi-driver who has really run out of hope and self-respect. He gets such humanity into the character, so that the events lead to a confrontation between the couple of almost unbearable emotion. Yet it is not as bleak as many of his films, for all the sombreness that characterises much of its running time. I think it is this upward turn that makes it easier to watch than something like Naked, excellent though that film is too. This film shows the flame of human goodness to burn as brightly in this ordinary man as it could in anyone, yet it is the kind of goodness that often passes unnoticed, indeed it does here by most of his family members for most of the film. The daughter is also very touching - just the sight of her walking alone by the river conjures such compassion in the viewer thanks to the subtle way Leigh reveals character and inserts an ordinary but telling moment like this with such a sure sense of timing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 19 Sep 2011
By 
Ryan Stanley "Ryan" (Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
A must-watch for any Mike Leigh fan. Stunning performances and a gripping narrative. Compelling and beautiful. A deeply human story, this film once again demonstrates Mike Leigh's razor sharp awareness of the harsh, but often profound, reality of life.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So depressing its brilliant, 29 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
I love Mike Leigh, the more depressing he is the better the film. This one is great, best watched when you want to feel good about your own life and hope that it never gets this bad!!!
Love it!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One excellent film! Well packaged and speedy delivery…definitely recommend, 6 July 2014
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This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
One excellent film!
Well packaged and speedy delivery…definitely recommend, thank you 
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5.0 out of 5 stars TOP DRAWER., 26 May 2014
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This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
If you're a fan of TIMOTHY SPALL you will most definately like this.I admit to not having seen this before but I really enjoyed it. You have Tim Spall and Lesley Manville so you can't really go wrong, along with a suitably able performance from James Corden and one of my personal favourites Ruth Sheen.Not a new film but one you will want to watch again.Picture quality on this disc is very good.Can't fault this in any way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tose men again, 30 April 2014
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This review is from: All Or Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
With Mike Leigh having written and directed this film and Timothy Spall in a major role, what could go wrong? Nothing
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