Bleak Moments

Overview

Mike Leigh began his career as one of Britain's most interesting directors with this realistic drama about a woman looking for respite from an unsatisfying life. Sylvia (Anne Raitt) is a slightly overweight woman who works as a secretary and hasn't had much luck in romance. She shares her home with her retarded sister, whom she looks after, and has been dating Peter (Eric Allen), a schoolteacher whom she hopes will ask her to marry. However, one evening they have a date that doesn't go especially well, and Sylvia...
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Overview

Mike Leigh began his career as one of Britain's most interesting directors with this realistic drama about a woman looking for respite from an unsatisfying life. Sylvia (Anne Raitt) is a slightly overweight woman who works as a secretary and hasn't had much luck in romance. She shares her home with her retarded sister, whom she looks after, and has been dating Peter (Eric Allen), a schoolteacher whom she hopes will ask her to marry. However, one evening they have a date that doesn't go especially well, and Sylvia discovers that Peter is impotent; he breaks up with her shortly afterward. The only other interesting relationship in her life is with Norman (Mike Bradwell), a hippie who rents out Sylvia's garage as a workspace for his underground newspaper and plays songs on his guitar for her sister. Bleak Moments was adapted from a play written by Leigh; as is his habit, the story was created in collaboration with the actors who originated the roles.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Mike Leigh's assured first feature, Bleak Moments, already demonstrates his skill with actors, and his unique ability to create complex characters whose behavior confounds audience expectations. Throughout Leigh's career, he has avoided cliché and eschewed pat resolutions in favor of a more realistic approach that demands the active engagement of the viewer. There are several awkward social interactions in Bleak Moments, and doubtless some viewers will find these scenes -- with their long uncomfortable silences, and underlying desperation -- unpleasant to sit through. But it's undeniable that in this film, as in most of his work, Leigh captures truths about human behavior. The action in Bleak Moments appears simple on its surface, but there's a richness to this work that withstands repeated viewings. Leigh is greatly aided by his cast, particularly by the restrained fierceness of Anne Raitt's performance as Sylvia. Sylvia is clearly unhappy, but her rueful wit as when she offhandedly says during one awkward encounter with a potential suitor, "It's just like Romeo and Juliet all over again." infuses much of the film with an unexpectedly enjoyable edge. Despite the title, there's a good deal of humor in the film, particularly in one extended scene featuring an irascible waiter in a Chinese restaurant. Socially isolated and driven to drink by her sister's disability, desperate for other companionship, Sylvia still finds it impossible to engage with the world on any but her own terms. Her need and her self-awareness make her a uniquely sympathetic protagonist in Leigh's oeuvre.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/29/2004
  • UPC: 759259140530
  • Original Release: 1972
  • Rating:

  • Source: Water Bearer Films
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:50:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 59,221

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Anne Raitt Sylvia
Mike Bradwell Norman
Eric Allen Peter
Liz Smith Pat's Mother
Linda Beckett Remedial Trainee
Una Brandon-Jones Supervisor
Joolia Cappelman Pat
Stephen Churchett Remedial Trainee
Ina Clough
Joanna Dickens Stout Teacher
Ronald Eng Waiter
Malcolm Smith
Donald Sumpter
Technical Credits
Mike Leigh Director, Screenwriter
Mike Bardwell Songwriter
Leslie Blair Editor, Producer
Bahram Manoochehri Cinematographer
Richard Rambaut Art Director
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start Film [:40]
2. Late Night Rental [10:43]
3. Sister Care [9:10]
4. Back to Work [11:39]
5. Two Gents, One Gal [12:21]
6. Out for Dinner [5:45]
7. Home Again [16:31]
8. Changes [23:15]
9. End Credits [16:09]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Chapter Selections
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