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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully conflicting views
Reading the other reviews, this seems to be a film that you are likely to either love or hate. I loved it, although if it were described to me, I would fully expect to find the Poppy character (or rather, the implication that she is an ideal that people should strive to emulate) rather patronising. I think what made the difference for me was that the character was shown...
Published on 28 Sep 2009 by CJ Savernake

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Lighter Side of Mike Leigh
I'm a great fan of Mike Leigh, and rate 'Secrets and Lies' as one of my all time great movies. Many people have said that Mike's films are bleak, and one gets the impression here, that an attempt has been made to try and get away from this image. The question remains, has this been successful? I am not so sure that it has, and I am left with reservations. It's as if...
Published on 19 Aug 2008 by Mr. Kenneth J. Hodges


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully conflicting views, 28 Sep 2009
By 
CJ Savernake (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Reading the other reviews, this seems to be a film that you are likely to either love or hate. I loved it, although if it were described to me, I would fully expect to find the Poppy character (or rather, the implication that she is an ideal that people should strive to emulate) rather patronising. I think what made the difference for me was that the character was shown to have some depth.

It's difficult to summarise plot, because there isn't really one - the film basically follows an extreme of character - the happy-go-lucky person who seems impossible to knock down. It's a 'slice of life' type film, and we see her in various situations that are probably there to show that her life isn't that different from the average. Who knows though? Perhaps we all have secret tragedies, and the fact that there is no real trauma in hers is the real source of her happiness. I suspect not though.

The scene with the tramp for me was critical - it was the point at which I stopped dismissing Poppy as a bit of fluff and started thinking that there was something else rather special about the character - the scene was unrealistic in the sense that few sane people would likely go up to a tramp who is very obviously not in touch with reality - but Sally Hawkins' portrayal was so convincing that instead of thinking, 'Fake' it made me think that Poppy had a very special insight, that she would know the tramp-nutter wouldn't harm her, and that she had sufficient compassion to try to find out how he was. It was that balance of compassion that made her chirpiness in the rest of the film endearing rather than annoying.

I loved the interactions between Poppy and Scott (the driving instructor) - and here again, it was the subtleties of the interaction and the great acting that won me over. Because, basically, Poppy's behaviour was very irritating (IMO) and potentially unsafe, and a driving instructor would have been totally justified in telling her off - but the way he responds, he's just so typical of people who work in customer-interfacing roles who really shouldn't. The scene with the pregnant sister was so brilliant - and such a great illustration of how when people say, "I just want you to be happy", what they really mean is "I just want you to do as I say".

Very well observed and very funny IMO.

A feel good film yes, but what's wrong with feeling good occasionally?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars En Ra Ha ha ha, 22 July 2011
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Happy Go Lucky is the story of a female primary school teacher Poppy who, in the American vernacular, might be described as "kooky", as "happy go lucky" is probably a bit of an understatement. Bouncing from one situation to another, she constantly tries to engage overly-cheerfully in chirpy, witty banter with the plethora of surly people around her until she takes driving lessons.

Her driving instructor is a religious fundamentalist and conspiracy theorist with some serious anger management problems, who lesson after lesson becomes more and more aggressive. While this situation is ongoing, Poppy is also faced with new challenges teaching her previously bouncy, happy creative crafts lessons at the school, having to deal with issues of bullying and child protection.

As the darker side of life begins to creep in to challenge her own, it becomes an internal battle for Poppy to maintain her ultra-cheerful humorous perspective on life.

This is a well-scripted and brilliantly-acted film which can be taken on the surface as a rainy-day happy-go-lucky comedy romance or taken as something to think much more deeply about. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the outstanding performances from Sally Hawkins as Poppy, the actors portraying her family and flatmates, and Eddie Mason as the driving instructor from the depths of Hell.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effortlessly simple, yet beautiful - one to watch on a rainy afternoon, 13 April 2011
By 
Mrs. R. Burnett "R. Burnett" (Glastonbury) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This film is poignant and touching, with the main character Poppy, played by Sally Hawkins bringing in a wonderful performance. It's not about special effects and bells and whistles; it's all about the script and well drawn characters. It is the kind of film that really cheers you up and makes you feel like smiling. Gentle and sweet, with a feel good effect; yet still with a twist Mike Leigh style, in the guise of Poppy's gloriously miserably driving instructor.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, 9 Jan 2010
By 
P. M. Jones "Wooden book" (Washington England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
As per the title I thought this film was very thought provoking. It was sad and funny and made one appreciate everyday life. I am 73 and I bought the DVD for my 24 year old grandson who does a similar job to the main actress ie teaching, in the film and it gave us much to think about.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars See it and smile, 17 July 2008
By 
simonpeggfan (Maidenhead UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Poppy, Mike Leigh's latest creation, sails through this slice of life with a smile on her face, fun on her mind and kindness in her heart.

Quite brilliantly brought to life by the excellent Sally Hawkins, Poppy has much to be happy about. A true friend, a nice flat in a Finsbury Park, a job she was born to do,supportive colleagues, An enjoyable social life, making her Happy-Go-Lucky. Many could probably act happy for a few hours but Hawkins manages so well to cover all the detail - the eyes, expressions and body language - to show happiness - and never sadness

Then there is Scott. When Poppy's bike is stolen (it must have "flown the nest"), she is confronted with Scott (Eddie Marsan) the driving instructor.The very antithesis of happy. Scott is rigid, angry, frustrated, impatient, knotted up and racist. A borderline OCD sufferer, who is tortured by who-knows-what in his past. Scott is the most bitter and overwhelming character in a Mike Leigh film since David Thewlis in "Naked". A towering performance.

If Poppy is the light, Scott is definitely the dark, but such dark shadows inhabit the whole of "Happy-Go-Lucky". The unhappy schoolboy, the glum Sister, the social climbing sister who dominates her husband. Little vignettes of irritation and annoyance.

The film is at times both lovely and disturbing, life affirming but carrying a caveat that unhappiness does exist in the sullen faces, in madness, in neuroses.

Happy-Go-Lucky is a highly enjoyable and often very funny film, but it also carries terrible sadness. I have never been a massive fan of Mike Leigh, but I have to admit that I was wrong. He just seems to get better and better.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming, colourful and insightful, 9 May 2008
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Mike Leigh is the master of the awkward silence and the cringe, of the emotional distress behind so many people's lives.

On the surface, the relentlessly cheerful Happy go Lucky marks a change from that, because the central character, Poppy, is so irritatingly Pollyanna-ish and upbeat. Sally Hawkins carries the film, showing that behind her silliness and happiness, Poppy is in fact intelligent and sensitive. That said, the whole cast turn in great performances.

This is a much more insightful film than might at first meet the eye, fun to watch at the time, with plenty to think about afterwards. Fun and clever - what more ou could you ask for?

Shot in a glossy palate of primary colours, the whole film, and London in particular, look stunning. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How will you react?, 8 Jan 2013
This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Happy Go Lucky has as its main theme a question - why does the simple idea of being happy seem so odd in today's society? The central character, Poppy, is a relentlessly happy person. The happiness seems genuine, not just a persona hiding a core of sadness. The film is loosely plotted and is mostly about her interactions with other people and their efforts to change her outlook. Her sister wants her to have a similar life to her own, for example, and can't see how she can be happy without it. However, Poppy won't be changed, and her stubborn refusal to accept what others see as reality and her chirpy disposition can make her character very infuriating at times. Fortunately, there are moments when you feel great affection for her too. She is brought to life brilliantly by Sally Hawkins, who must be near the top of the list of Britain's best actors.

The most ferocious attack on Poppy's peace of mind comes from her driving instructor Scott, played by Eddie Marsan. He is the polar opposite of Poppy, full of impotent rage, self-loathing and paranoia. He is a man clearly in need of medical intervention. Personally I would have liked a more subtle and persuasive portrayal of sadness as a counterbalance to Poppy's happiness. Scott's ranting is far too delusional to ever undermine Poppy's philosophy, though their interactions are very funny (until they take a turn for the worse).

Many reviewers have marked this film down because they dislike Poppy, or they find the whole thing too lightweight. I think this misses the point somewhat, and that there is a lot going on under the surface. The film hints at the possibility that excessive happiness can be viewed in the same light as other dysfunctional personality disorders. One minute Poppy seems quite grounded, she is an intelligent, actively caring person and extremely dedicated in her job as a teacher. She is moved by other people's suffering. Then at other times she appears hyperactive, unable to moderate her own behaviour in order to empathise with the feelings of others, inflicting a nervous stream of consciousness chattering on everyone. The scene in the bookshop is an example of this, where she constantly cajoles the miserable shopkeeper. So, maybe, in her own way Poppy believes everyone should feel the way she does, and as such displays the same solipsistic thinking as her sister. In another more serious way her outlook impairs her ability to measure risks in certain situations, as evidenced by her continual baiting of Scott, and when she approaches a disturbed stranger in an abandoned factory.

Ultimately we never learn the mental process that allows Poppy to encompass the suffering of others and remain happy herself, though there are moments in the film that suggest it is a hard won battle.

I am a person with a generally gloomy world view but I found this film enjoyable, well acted and thought-provoking. I can't guarantee you will enjoy it as much as I did but I recommend you give it a chance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It IS fun, 29 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This movie works on two levels - it is Mike Leigh after all - a light level where it is very funny, even slapstick in places, and a deeper level. The apparently silly heroine is in fact a very good teacher and quite a good psychologist, the way she deals with the peculiar and damaged individuals that she encounters. It is, in the end a 'feel-good' film but that is NOT a criticism, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last of the Humanists, 14 Feb 2014
This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Mike Leigh is a *genius*, a most overworked word today when used to describe to directors. Leigh, a great admirer of Jean Renoir, another humanist, is the last of a great tradition. Whatever the faults of Leigh’s films, this one included, every story he tells is one full of great compassion. [You can’t say that for most of today’s filmmakers whose films seem to be full of hate and fashionable adolescent cynicism.] In his film, Polly is a cock-eyed optimist; she doesn’t see the world through a glass darkly; she sees it through sunglasses. In the beginning sequences, her mannerisms are so cloyingly annoying that you can’t fault most viewers from turning her and the film off. But, if you stay with her, highly advised, you will soon discover that she is not stupid. Is there are more powerful examination in film of today’s innocence vs. today's anger than her relationship with driving instructor in this film? And is there a more affective moment in today’s cinema than the moment in close-up when Polly decides not to take any more lessons? An imperfect film, yes, but a wonderful one!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely great, 3 July 2010
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Oostrijck (Rotterdam) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Great movie and at least just as good as other Mike Leigh films such as Naked and All or nothing, which are brilliant as well. Really funny and melancholic as well.
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Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008]
Happy-Go-Lucky [DVD] [2008] by Mike Leigh (DVD - 2008)
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