Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Spoilers within.

Happy-Go-Lucky is the story of a school teacher who lives by the motto Put On a Happy Face. We follow her around in the seemingly mundane and pointless random events that make up her life. She in 30 years old and yet still likes to go clubbing and doesn't know how to drive.

She hears a mad homeless man talking to himself and wanders over to have a chat with him-and tells him that she understands him. She takes driving lessons from a very unhappy man whose sole purpose in life is to be a good Driving Instructor.

The moral of Happy-Go-Lucky is that most people hate other people who are happy all the time. Go on and give it a try. Walk around with a smile on your face and see how long it takes someone to ask-What are you smiling about, eh?

I found this movie by reading the Top Ten List of PBS film critic David Edelstein. He really like Happy-Go-Lucky and I think it was pretty good too. It has that whole kind of slice of life feeling that Mike Leigh does so well. I really liked Naked, a wonderfully weird film about a homeless man wondering the streets of London. Would have been fun if they could have got David Thewlis to play the homeless fellow in Happy-go-lucky.

Sally Hawkins's Poppy is the one wandering the streets of London here. Her flatmate always close at hand as she goes happily about. They share a bed as well as a flat, and you can't get much closer than that. As the movie starts we have nothing but questions, most of which are answered as the movie makes it's way forward.

Poppy and her flatmate Zoe, played by Alexis Zegerman, are both teachers and spend a bit of their time doing odd teacher things. Before we know they are teachers we see them making crude bird costumes which look pretty much nothing like birds. These are projects for small children.

This is a great London film, as many of the great bits of the great city make cameo appearances. Poppy wanders around Camden Town, she wanders around the Thames Barrier Park, she learns to drive a round-a-bout and lives to tell the tale. I love seeing London in films, as it the main way that I get to see the city.

So Poppy is ready and willing to try new things-so she starts taking driving lessons and dancing lessons from two fairly unhappy people. But then, it seems that everyone the hyper happy Poppy meets is on the verge of suicide. When we first met her, she is happily riding her bike around the streets of London. She stops to go shopping and enters a bookstore where the shop attendant can't be bothered to say two words to her. She then finds that her bike has been stolen while she was shopping. Oh, well-she sings and dances down the street, her only regret is that she didn't get to say goodbye to her bike.

By the time Happy-Go-Lucky ends airhead Poppy has had a couple of sobering experiences and is not smiling like an idiot at everyone she meets. In fact, she now seems a bit suspicious of everyone. But not to worry, her frighting experience behind her, the film ends with her rowing on the lake with her flatmate and laughing on the phone with her boyfriend.

Life, such as it is, goes on.

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