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4.6 6
Director: Mike Leigh

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman


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Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan star in director Mike Leigh's seriocomedy concerning an eternally optimistic teacher living and working in North London. Thirty-year-old teacher Poppy (Hawkins) always has a smile on her face, and does her best to brighten the days of those around her by making small talk and


Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan star in director Mike Leigh's seriocomedy concerning an eternally optimistic teacher living and working in North London. Thirty-year-old teacher Poppy (Hawkins) always has a smile on her face, and does her best to brighten the days of those around her by making small talk and cracking jokes. For the past ten years, Poppy has lived with her best friend, Zoe (Alexis Zegerman), a fellow teacher whose wry outlook on life serves as the perfect counterbalance to Poppy's effervescent charm. One day, Poppy decides that it's time to take driving lessons and enrolls in the Axle School of Motoring. Almost instantly, Poppy and her stressed-out instructor, Scott (Eddie Marsan), clash. Still, it seems that there's more to this relationship than surface appearances would suggest. After accompanying her colleague Heather (Sylvestra Le Touzel) to a dance class taught by a particularly passionate instructor (Karina Fernandaz), Poppy connects with kindly school social worker Tim (Samuel Roukin). Of course, Tim can't help but fall for a woman of such boundless compassion, but how will Poppy's increasingly jealous driving instructor react to the news of her most recent romance?

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Happy-Go-Lucky represents yet another installment in Mike Leigh's ongoing canon of odes to working-class Britons leading quiet lives of desperation. The main character, Poppy (the extraordinary Sally Hawkins), is a charming and charismatic 30-year-old schoolteacher who operates according to a single principle: confront the ills of the world with bubbly exuberance and a series of lighthearted jests. The narrative arc brings Poppy to a moment of life-changing disillusionment -- not the shattering disillusionment that will send the young woman tumbling down into a mire of cynical pessimism, but the sort that will impart her with a tad more wisdom than she initially demonstrated. Many viewers will feel distanced from Poppy at first glance; her laugh-it-off attitude feels both extremely grating and pitifully naïve. Leigh spends much of the movie dispelling our misperceptions about this most unusual young woman. One might be inclined, for instance, to read her free-spiritedness as indicative of a lack of intelligence; however, Poppy, as it turns out, excels at her difficult full-time teaching job. And one might, for example, be inclined to read her proclivity for turning everything into a joke as insensitivity to others around her. But nothing could be further from the truth -- we witness her sudden gravity in the face of a little boy beating up others in her classroom, and marvel at the gentility and compassion with which she handles it. We begin to realize, over the arc of the narrative, that the up-front exterior qualities are in fact coping devices; one wouldn't be surprised to learn that the thick-skinned Poppy may have encountered severe domestic hardships early on in life and admirably learned how to contend with them. In the film's most telling scene, she gazes out the window and declares, "Look at that beautiful sky." Leigh then cuts to a shot of a blue sky suddenly threatened by menacing clouds. It's doubtful that the writer-director could have devised a more telling visual metaphor for Poppy's perception of the world. Poppy wins the audience over with two heart-rending scenes so intransigent and finely felt that the emotions grow palpable. One involves the troubled student, whom Poppy speaks to with the assistance of a kindly social worker, and another involves a homeless derelict whom Poppy befriends one night while walking home. She speaks to the man not patronizingly, but completely on the level -- and as she does, Leigh cuts to a close-up of the man's face, as grateful tears well up in his eyes. The character of Poppy, like the writer-director, exudes humanism, and Leigh wants to show us that such humanism indeed has merit -- that it would help if we were all a little bit more compassionate and vulnerable to one another. The director wants to reveal the limits of this humanism as well, and to this end, he relies on the beleaguered relationship between Poppy and her driving instructor, Scott (Eddie Marsan). The latter is really some piece of work -- he's an angry, irascible misogynist who has apparently gravitated to Satanism as a way of life. He repeatedly screams, "En-Ra-Ha, En-Ra-Ha, En-Ra-Ha," at her during their lessons and orders her to "focus on the eye at the top of the pyramid!" Between this and his nearly unintelligible exhortations about an angel expelled from Heaven prior to Lucifer, one gains a window into Scott's twisted psychosis, and his reliance on the occult as an emotional anchor. We can see early on that he isn't buying any of Poppy's attempts to mollify his anger, and indeed, that her efforts in his direction are not merely wasted but seriously counterproductive. The picture benefits enormously from Marsan's performance; he pulls us into Scott, making us feel the poor man's inner rage, turmoil, and deep-seated confusion, to such a degree that he nearly out-acts Hawkins. Leigh's genius, as always, lies in constructing a loose, semi-improvised narrative with innumerable scenes that fail to drive the narrative forward, but offer us glistening behavioral and psychological insights into his characters that we would almost certainly miss in more tightly scripted films. The picture as a whole benefits not merely from the excellent performances, but from its warm emotional core and its infectious love of people, topped off by a mature (though not jaded) sobriety about human limitations that thoroughly validates everything preceding it.

Product Details

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Special Features

Behind the wheel of Happy-Go-Lucky; Happy-in-character; Audio commentary by director Mike Leigh

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sally Hawkins Poppy
Eddie Marsan Scott
Alexis Zegerman Zoe
Sinead Matthews Alice
Kate O'Flynn Suzy
Sarah Niles Tash
Sylvestra Le Touzel Heather
Samuel Roukin Tim
Andrea Riseborough Dawn
Oliver Maltman Jamie
Caroline Martin Helen
Karina Fernandez Flamenco Instructor
Stanley Townsend Actor
Nonso Anozie Actor

Technical Credits
Mike Leigh Director,Screenwriter
Christine Blundell Makeup
Simon Channing-Williams Producer
Jim Clark Editor
James Clayton Executive Producer
David Crossman Costumes/Costume Designer
Jacqueline Durran Costumes/Costume Designer
Gail Egan Executive Producer
Tim Fraser Sound/Sound Designer
David Garrett Executive Producer
Nina Gold Casting
Georgina Lowe Co-producer
Dick Pope Cinematographer
Duncan Reid Executive Producer
Josh Robertson Asst. Director
Patrick Rolfe Art Director
Tessa Ross Executive Producer
Dennis Schnegg Art Director
Nigel Stone Sound/Sound Designer
Mark Tildesley Production Designer
Gary Yershon Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Happy-Go-Lucky
1. Opening Credits [6:54]
2. Girls' Night Out [6:22]
3. Primary School Teacher [10:14]
4. Driving Lesson [5:50]
5. Trampoline Injury [5:28]
6. "En-Ra-Ha" [5:15]
7. Flamenco Class [7:56]
8. Troubled Student [7:37]
9. "You Know"? [9:47]
10. Social Worker [4:45]
11. "Juggernaut!" [8:47]
12. A Very Lucky Lady [12:05]
13. That Kind of Day [9:01]
14. Good Driving Instructor [10:29]
15. Happy-Ending [4:21]
16. End Credits [3:26]


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Happy-Go-Lucky 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
GinaK More than 1 year ago
Although this film does not have a strong plot, it does have a great and thoroughly enjoyable performance by Sally Hawkins. The film is very much of its time, yet it is still a lot of fun and makes you appreciate how great a really gifted teacher is.
NY_Reader1 More than 1 year ago
A quirky movie shouldn't be almost 2 hours long. Aside from that, I just don't have an ear for British accents, so I actually had to use the subtitles to understand what they were saying. Enunciate already! Sally Hawkins is delightful. She manages to portray the character as likable without being annoying. Plus, i loved the ending.
Optimistic More than 1 year ago
Wow! It's been a while since I've felt so good watching a movie from beginning-to-end! For my liking, it could be ten times as long as it was, because everything in it was absolutely fresh, but kept this viewer riveted through the absolutely brilliant performances, scene-by-scene, of Sally Hawkins,who was an unknown to me! It wouldn't surprise me if Sally has been through an intense training of Character Clowning, (along the lines of a Charlie- Chaplinesque type of clown), because her clown was certainly alive throughout the many improvised scenes that were undertaken here. Hats off to the director for taking this improvisational approach to developing this excellent film, and here's hoping that his technique is continued and modelled by others, because, really, that's a prety accurate way to capture the essence of life! Hats off also to the whole acting cast, for providing such amazing counterbalances to Poppy, and also to the close-up cameramen, who stayed with her on her whole journey so that her face could echo the humour and joy that this film exudes (against some dark realities, like the driving instructor) and also to the costume designer,who clones Poppy's optimism in brilliant colours!
InLovewithSALLY More than 1 year ago
I ADORED this film! I had never heard of Sally Hawkins(embarrasingly so) prior to this award season. I am so very happy to have discovered this wonderful actress in this gem of a film. Her performace was nothing short of STELLAR, and her supporting actor was exceptional. I haven't felt this way about an indie since 'On a Clear Day' (see recommendations). I know they are few and far between, and I may just have to wait another three years to be this won over yet again. FunFact: On the films audio commentary the director/screenwriter said that he wrote each scene only after they were improv'ed by the actors. You could call this cheating, but..... there is a natural feel to this film exactly as though the acting were an afterthought, and the 'being' was what it was all about. I don't hold that against him. He achieved what he set out to do, and quite well. I highly recommend this film to persons who are down, and want to feel slighly better. You may not laugh out loud (i did, MANYYYYYY times), BUT, you will be tickled. I promise. FEEL GOOD FILM OF THE YEAR! 5 STARS!
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