Customer Reviews


11 Reviews
5 star:
 (5)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Leigh`s extraodinary debut.
This was Mike Leigh`s first feature length film, and to my mind remains one of his most powerful. I`m afraid I must disagree with the other reviewer from Yorkshire who refers to this film as a period piece or merely "a slice of social history". This film like many of Mike`s other films is about the breakdown in personal communication within an increasingly alienated...
Published on 20 Jun 2004 by Osbourne Ruddock

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Debut
Mike Leigh's first feature is certainly embryonic but equally it perhaps wears his chief fascinations (social clumsiness, the trivialities of human behaviour, self-importance and conceit, frustration and desperation and how we perceive each other and ourselves) far more clearly on its sleeve than some of his later work. There's little interest in polish here (though...
Published 16 months ago by Man Out Of Time


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike Leigh`s extraodinary debut., 20 Jun 2004
This review is from: Bleak Moments [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This was Mike Leigh`s first feature length film, and to my mind remains one of his most powerful. I`m afraid I must disagree with the other reviewer from Yorkshire who refers to this film as a period piece or merely "a slice of social history". This film like many of Mike`s other films is about the breakdown in personal communication within an increasingly alienated society, and as such is more relevant now than ever before. However in Bleak Moments this breakdown of communication results in a peculiarly British or English form of repression -virtually all the characters are introverted or repressed in some way. The theme of communication throuout the film is made obvious in a scene where a character discusses the author Marshall Mcluhan and his theory that in mass media the real message is in the method of communication. The lack of meaningful communication and silence in these peoples lives is reflected in the fact that there is no external music in the film. Like the recent `Dogme` films the only music to be found is made by the characters in the film - in this case Norman playing his guitar.
The film revolves around the pleasant but withdrawn character of Sylvia (played by Anne Raitt) Lonely and always dressed in black she lives in a dreary suburban area with her handicapped sister Hilda (Sarah Stephenson) who she cares for. During the film Sylvia befriends a very nervous hippy from Scunthorpe called Norman (Mike Bradwell) who is renting her garage. But perhaps the most disdurbed character is the chronically repressed and somewhat misanthropic shoolteacher Peter (Eric Allan). One senses that Sylvia and Peter both desire some sort of intimate relationship with each other, but that the level of communication and emotional developement required for such personal involvement would make it unlikely to develop.
The truly astonoshing thing about this film is how they succede in taking this depiction of repression and nervousness to such an extreme level without it becoming farcical, and also retain well rounded and believable characters. This is due in large part to the strength of the acting, which Mike always manages to get from his talanted performers. The characters inner worlds are shown not so much through speech but through their physicality and above all their facial expressions. We may never meet people quite as repressed or introverted as these characters, but the directors purpose in accentuating these tendencies is to make clearer the dangers and shortcomings of such tendencies.
Finally, although the film title is aproppriate and the aquardness of the characters is often difficult to watch the film is not without humour. In fact watching this the second time around i found myself roaring with laughter occasionaly. We are not however invited to laugh at them in a cruel way, rather they make us laugh in the same way real people`s ideosyncracies can make us laugh. I strongly recommend viewing this film. A masterpiece in my opinion, and a work of tremendous psychological depth.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak Moments relives the darker side of the seventies, 15 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Bleak Moments [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Anne Raitt is Sylvia, the central figure in Director Mike Leigh's first major film-work, produced in 1971 to indifferent critical and public acclaim. Judge for yourself though... if you're a forty-something you'll remember all the cadences of this cold, low tech year, the predominence of the colour brown and general lack of central heating. If you're younger, see how Mum and Dad spent their time protesting and listening to bad progressive rock. Sylvia, the star of the film, may be young-ish and pretty, but her horizons are limited. She has a boring job, but devotes most of her time to looking after her disabled sister. She can only grab moments of happiness, with two men who are interested in her romantically. However, most of the film is filled with nervous pauses and uneasy silences. Leigh has stated that we learn about ourselves from seeing how we appear. We learn alot about 1971, namely the coziness of winter evenings and the cost of duty and devotion. As a slice of social history Bleak Moments cannot be criticised, but perhapss the beauty of the piece lies, Antonioni-like, in it's silences, mistakes and inelegance - it's a film which makes a subliminal impression, and if quality is your bag then Bleak Moments will colour your world with dark hues and rich reminders of a world which sadly exists no more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leigh's early masterpiece of British film, 30 Oct 2014
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
Mike Leigh's 1st feature film Bleak Moments announced a considerable talent.I don't think he ever improved on the all-round quality of acting performances,script and directing,including cinematography.Shot in Norwood,South London,it evokes a time 1970,and place,suburban streets,and a form of behaviour,which is awkwardly English, introspective,given to embarrassingly long silences of all the main characters.This film has all the quality for British cinema that new wave had for the French.

Sylvia(Anne Rait) lives with her mentally-disabled sister,Hilda(Sarah Stephenson) in their house.She loves her sister and looks out for her,bringing in gentleman callers, one an uptight schoolteacher,Peter(Eric Allan)the other a hippie guy,Norman(Mike Bradwell)who plays guitar for Hilda and keeps Sylvia company.She has loaned out her garage for him to live in and print copies of a folk music magazine.Sylvia works as a typist in an office with her colleague Pat,with a boss who is an irritating bore.

The anguish of unexpressed inner feelings,the failure of personal communication and social interaction,the isolation of the characters from each other. We are not connected to the wide world,only a shots of dark interiors cut with shots of residential streets.Hilda is isolated by her disability,yet all the characters fall short and crave experience and company.The desperate nature of their existence expressed in a social gathering, and a scene set in a Chinese restaurant.Mostly Sylvia's attempts to tempt Peter,by topping up his glass with sherry and through body language.

All the performers are 1st rate,but the film is centred on Anne Raitt's impassive,calm,measured,plaintive beauty,tempered by a stoic humour.Most bizarrely Peter attempts to converse intellectually about the medium dominating the message with Sylvia makes him blind to the real communication,and he falls flat at a kiss.Raitt has the bobbed hair of a Jane Eyre(and she plays the piano). Leigh draws out the silences,the pregnant pauses, until we get to each tortured soul.Technically perfect,tonally brilliant.Leigh has never been better.He's the film equivalent of Pinter and Larkin.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 18 April 2012
By 
D. Robinson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
The film is wonderful. On DVD at last.
A slice of life.. albeit life in all it's awkwardness and "quiet desperation"
There's scenes in this film though that are very funny... check out Norm the Hippie serenading Sylvia and her sister with some quite profound folk songs and then Sylvia's friend Pat, interrupting with, "why don't you play something more cheerful... something with which we can all join in?" Then there's the chomping lonely man in the corner of the Chinese restaurant. "Oi... give us some peaches and cream will ya!!!" Love it.
Mike Leigh's approach in creating such a film (originally a play) is amazing too. He explored a whole back story for each character and then threw them together into various situations.

Anne Rait is superb as Sylvia.She was in a couple of Mike Lieghs BBC shorts and has appeared in Taggert, The Lost Tribe and Coronation Street plus other tv series - but why isn't she better known?

Anyway... Bleak Moments... is a sombre but endearing Snapshot of suburbia trying not to drown.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak Moments is definitely a very finely wrought film; in fact its very painful to watch in places., 24 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
Bleak Moments is definitely a very finely wrought film; in fact its very painful to watch in places.

I think all Leigh's pictures are about stripping away the superfluous and examining what makes us tick, what makes us human, and it is often the case that a director's first film will encapsulate his core ideas most distinctly and readily. This film is a prime example of that: the social dysfunction of people isolated in 1970s Britain is endearingly seared onto the celluloid with a most painstaking thoroughness! However, it is the tender moments in this film of quietness - where the characters' humanity is subject to a certain voyeurism - which really allows Leigh's sensitive perceptions and portrayals to articulate themselves. It is also strangely objective: the cast is wonderful and the performances are really stellar, and yet we are always apparently at one remove from them. We can sympathise with them but never fully understand them. It is austere and bleak and yet Leigh manages to deposit a subtle kind of poetry to this dour film.

I think Leigh has more in common with some of the classical Japanese directors than one might imagine. For example, the idea of Ozu's anti-cinema comes to mind: that is the idea that the director is refusing to indulge in the glamour of movie-making and his refusal to fill the viewers world with useless and gratuitous gazes. Therefore some people may find it too slow.

The film is beautifully composed, and has been digitally restored by Soda pictures and thus looks quite good for a 1971 film; the sound however, left much to be desired and one of the characters was evidently much further away from the mic! This is certainly the work of a master and like most great works of art requires the viewer to work harder with the piece to achieve its full flavour. There were moments when I thought that so fine were the scenes that I was watching a Kubrick film. Certainly worth a watch, maybe not the first film for someone who has not seen Mike Leigh's other films.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Remarkable display of storytelling ...", 7 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
British screenwriter and director Mike Leigh`s feature film debut, a stage play from 1970 turned into a feature film which he wrote, tells the story about a woman named Sylvia who leads a quiet and rather uneventful life in the suburbs of South Norwood, London with her mentally ill sister named Hilda. Both of them seek the company of others, but they are stuck with eachother, and even though Hilda makes an effort to change their situation by inviting men to their home, their reserved and detached personalities makes the development of personal relations difficult for them.

One of the directors who are greatest at fictionalizing real life and depicting the tensions, the uncertainty, the awkward silence and the variable ways human beings communicate within social situations, goes into the heart of minimalistic filmmaking in this acutely directed independent film. "Bleak Moments" definitely has its bleak moments and it is a sharp existentialistic portrayal of everyday life where the monotony, the waiting for something else, the endurance of time and the mercilessness of isolation gets under the skin of people who wants nothing more than companionship.

A subtle study of character, a perceptive chamber piece, a considerate drama and a social comedy, English filmmaker Mike Leigh`s character-driven and narrative-driven directorial debut is a distinctly realistic film with a distinct atmosphere created by fine actors and actresses, where life is the central character which surrounds and inhabits the multifaceted and lovable individuals. The dialog is subtle and witty and in her first feature film role, actress Anne Raitt gives a profound and understated acting performance. A remarkable display of storytelling from one of the great auteur filmmakers.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Debut, 22 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
Mike Leigh's first feature is certainly embryonic but equally it perhaps wears his chief fascinations (social clumsiness, the trivialities of human behaviour, self-importance and conceit, frustration and desperation and how we perceive each other and ourselves) far more clearly on its sleeve than some of his later work. There's little interest in polish here (though Bahram Manoocherhi's cinematography is wonderful) as Leigh explores the ponderous and awkwardness between his protagonists head on.

Ricky Gervais would later extol and practice the virtues of embarrassing human behaviour as a source of comedy to great mainstream success; getting on film situations that the cringing viewer may only be able to stomach via a hand over the eyes or a slightly averted gaze, but here is proof that Leigh had beaten him to it. Bleak Moments is utterly uncompromising in its mumbling mordant depiction of social awkwardness and gaffes and in the bold move of getting the reality of facial twitches, clearing of the throat, hand wringing and almost kisses onto the screen. It's a fine line between watching excruciating interplay and the product actually being excruciating to watch but Leigh just about manages this tight rope well, dazzlingly well when one considers this is his first film.

It's certainly bleak, but it is equally not without hope too, simply because of the obvious resilience of spirit at the film's centre. It is Anne Raitt as Sylvia, a young woman utterly trapped by an unfulfilled life who takes that position and its a real tragedy to see someone so beautiful - Raitt looks like and is certainly lit like a heroine in a classical painting, like something by the Dutch Masters - in such titular bleak moments, solo bingeing on sherry of an evening as she endlessly waits for Eric Allen's obnoxious coldfish of a teacher to make a move. And yet, in her care for Hilda her mentally ill sister, her moments of dry and subversive wit and her achingly slow interactions with the hippy Norman, we see a woman not just isolated but strong, determined to do her best for her sister - a care home, for example, is simply never broached and her outright refusal of her colleague Pat's offer to take Hilda on is telling.

Not entertaining in the conventional sense, but nevertheless an excellent and important piece of filmmaking and an impressive debut from one of the true great in British cinema.

The DVD also features a Mike Leigh commentary.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak yes Moments give me more!, 2 Mar 2013
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
For a debut film it is sublime as a film on its own its beautiful there is nothing to dislike its amazing film making. I swear if you dont like it you must be dead lol I cant get enough of it and neither will you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars good to see some of the actors you dont see ..., 18 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
Very unusual and amusing ,good to see some of the actors you dont see anymore.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To Begin, 17 April 2011
By 
Dr. Robert Bohan (Dublin) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
This is Leigh's first film and impressive in what it foretells. Not exactly a happy picture it has moments of genius compounded of the harshness of life occasionally leavened by sparks of beauty. More of a study piece than an entertaining purchase.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Bleak Moments [DVD]
Bleak Moments [DVD] by Mike Leigh (DVD - 2008)
£9.20
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews