Top critical review
11 people found this helpful
Like a Mike Leigh parody...
on 11 July 2009
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.