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Vera Drake

Vera Drake

4.3 3
Director: Mike Leigh

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Philip Davis, Peter Wight

Written and directed by Academy Award-nominee Mike Leigh and set in England during the 1950s, this movie revolves around Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton), whose unrelenting dedication to her family is well known throughout her blue-collar town. However, there are more people than her rapidly aging mother and ill neighbor who depend on Vera's care. Though abortion was


Written and directed by Academy Award-nominee Mike Leigh and set in England during the 1950s, this movie revolves around Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton), whose unrelenting dedication to her family is well known throughout her blue-collar town. However, there are more people than her rapidly aging mother and ill neighbor who depend on Vera's care. Though abortion was illegal and, of course, widely frowned upon in the '50s, Vera sees women going through unwanted pregnancies the same as she would anyone else -- human beings deserving of treatment. With this in mind, she regularly induces miscarriages for those who need them, and her patients are consistently grateful for her gentleness and understanding. Unfortunately for Vera, the law doesn't see her as aiding those in need; they interpret the abortions as murder, as do most of the other people in her life. When Vera's activities are revealed, her family life and relationships with those around her -- including the ones she helped nurse back to health -- are put in jeopardy. Vera Drake also features performances from Jim Broadbent, Heather Craney, and Philip Davis. ~ Tracie Cooper

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
On this side of the Atlantic, British actress Imelda Staunton had been little known prior to this film. But her Academy Award-nominated performance here elevates this modest but poignant drama into a definite must-see. The film is set in London, in the early 1950s, with wartime rationing still in effect. Times are tough, especially for the working poor. Cheery cleaning woman Vera Drake (Staunton) doesn't let things get her down, though; after toiling all day in the well-appointed home of her wealthy employer, she's perfectly happy to come home to a crowded flat and look after her husband and two children. She also, without fanfare, performs safe abortions on those who desperately need the illegal procedure -- women and girls who have been taken advantage of in one way or another. The crux of the film is what happens when the police find out about Vera's avocation and show up at her door. Writer-director Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies) captures the drama inherent in such a situation while avoiding sensationalism; the focus is not so much on Vera's clandestine activities as on the conditions that make them necessary. The film doesn't specifically align itself with pro-choice or pro-life positions but, rather, exposes the hypocrisy that surrounds this issue: illegal or not, getting safe abortions has never been a problem for the wealthy, only for those who may need them most. At its core, though, Vera Drake is not about abortion. It's about a poor but proud family enduring hardship with loyalty and love.
All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Filmmaker Mike Leigh generally creates such richly drawn characters and pays such attention to the intimate details of their lives that it's hard to imagine one of his films focusing on a single issue, especially not in a pedantic way. While he often engages social issues in his work, characterizations of such depth and vibrancy wouldn't seem to allow for didacticism. On the surface, Vera Drake, with its ennobling portrait of a saintly woman who performs abortions, would seem to break with this longstanding tradition in the filmmaker's work. Despite its typically strong performances, the film can easily be dismissed as feminist propaganda by those who don't share Leigh's political bent, or dismissed as a "movie of the week" by those who continually underestimate his gifts as a visual stylist, because, like John Cassavetes, he focuses so intensely on the work of his actors. One almost wishes that Vera, as magnificently portrayed by Imelda Staunton, was less angelic, and more like the brittle, deeply flawed heroines of other Leigh films, like Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn) in Secrets & Lies. But when one looks more deeply at the work, it's clear that Vera, for all her charity, is a naïve woman, completely unsuited to dealing with the negative consequences of her good intentions. Along with the complex reactions of her close-knit family, the terrified Vera's inability to defend her actions gives the film a tragic resonance. Leigh's postwar London, meanwhile, brims with life that goes on beyond the frame. The set and costume design wonderfully evoke the characters' subsistence living, and each woman Vera tends to has an individual trauma etched in her face and movements. Leigh's ability to relay that each character has his or her own unspoken narrative is powerfully cinematic, and Vera Drake easily stands alongside his best work.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Line Home Video
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption; [None specified]

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Imelda Staunton Vera Drake
Philip Davis Stan
Peter Wight Detective Inspector Webster
Adrian Scarborough Frank
Heather Craney Joyce
Daniel Mays Sid
Alex Kelly Ethel
Sally Hawkins Susan
Eddie Marsan Reg
Ruth Sheen Lily
Helen Coker WPC Best
Martin Savage Detective Sergeant Vickers
Sinead Matthews Actor
Alan Corduner Actor
Lesley Sharp Actor
Jim Broadbent Judge
Fenella Woolgar Actor
Lesley Manville Mrs. Wells
Sandra Voe Actor
Liz White Actor
Elizabeth Berrington Actor
Emma Amos Actor
Richard Graham George
Anna Keaveney Nellie
Simon Chandler Mr Wells
Sam Troughton David
Marion Bailey Mrs Fowler
Chris O'Dowd Sid's Customer
Sid Mitchell Very Young Man
Leo Bill Ronny
Gerard Monaco Kenny
Tilly Vosburgh Mother of Seven
Alan Williams Sick Husband
Heather Cameron Child
Billie Cook Child
Billy Seymour Child
Nina Fry Dance Hall Girl
Lauren Holden Dance Hall Girl
Joanna Griffiths Peggy
Wendy Nottingham Ivy
Nicky Henson Private Doctor
Angie Wallis Nurse Willoughby
Judith Scott Sister Beech
Vinette Robinson Jamaican Girl
Rosie Cavaliero Married Woman
Anthony O'Donnell Mr Walsh
Lucy Pleasence Sister Coombes
Tracy O'Flaherty Nurse
Tom Ellis Police Constable
Robert Putt Station Sergeant
Craig Conway Station Constable
Jake Wood Ruffian
Vincent Franklin Mr Lewis
Michael Gunn Gaoler
Paul Jesson Magistrate
Paul Raffield Magistrate's Clerk
Philip Childs Clerk
Jeffry Wickham Prosecution Barrister
Nicholas Jones Defence Barrister
Stephan Dunbar Usher
Angela Curran Prisoner
Jane Wood Prisoner
Eileen Davies Prison Officer
Nick Bicât Conductor

Technical Credits
Mike Leigh Director,Screenwriter
Christine Blundell Makeup
Danielle Brandon Production Manager
Simon Channing-Williams Producer
Jim Clark Editor
Andrew Dickson Score Composer
Jacqueline Durran Costumes/Costume Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Gail Egan Executive Producer
Nina Gold Casting
Andy Grant Art Director
Francesca Jaynes Choreography
Georgina Lowe Co-producer
Step Parikian Musical Direction/Supervision
Dick Pope Camera Operator
Duncan Reid Executive Producer
Robert Jones Executive Producer
Josh Robertson Asst. Director
Alain Sarde Producer
Kerry Scourfield Makeup
Eve Stewart Production Designer
Ed Walsh Art Director
John Warhurst Sound Editor
Lesa Warrener Makeup

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [4:55]
2. Dinner [3:01]
3. Reg [3:28]
4. "It's Not Funny" [2:32]
5. A Diamond [4:11]
6. "Here to Help" [7:54]
7. Lily [3:41]
8. The Dance [3:53]
9. Susan's Trouble [3:50]
10. Psychiatric Evaluation [5:05]
11. Oridinary Day [7:01]
12. "Permission to Marry Ethel" [2:09]
13. Pamela [1:36]
14. Getting to the Bottom of Things [6:54]
15. "I Know Why You're Here" [9:55]
16. Police Headquarters [8:36]
17. Vera's Statement [7:19]
18. Telling George [4:05]
19. The Magistrate [5:47]
20. "It's Wrong" [5:14]
21. Sid [4:16]
22. Christmas [3:27]
23. Guilty [3:48]
24. Epilogue/End Credits [6:22]


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Vera Drake 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Vera drake shows what people are capable of in tight situations, without spoiling the film,it's a warm story of someone who is always there---no matter how harsh the cost. Imelda staunton is magnificent!!!!
Mildred More than 1 year ago
Imelda Staunton is wondelful in this movie. The plot is slow but good, and the very realistic situations. I recommend this movie for persons who like: drama, 1950s England, historical fiction.