One of the main reasons for starting this series of Weekend posts was the set of presents that various of my friends bought me for Christmas: collections of DVDs in order to explore the work of people who I don’t know much about, in this case Mike Leigh. For whatever reason, he never really entered my cultural sphere for the longest time, so it was a slow introduction to his work for me – Vera Drake was my first of his films, Happy Go Lucky the first I saw in a cinema, and even then I didn’t really investigate his work further despite enjoying them. But breaking my theatrical duck with him last year in Ecstasy and Grief piqued the interest and being given a mountain of his DVDs meant I now had the opportunity to work my way through.
This set of posts will focus on his film work from the 2000s, so All or Nothing, Vera Drake, Happy Go Lucky and Another Year are all getting the Clowns treatment. I’m just giving my opinions on the films, there’s nothing too deep here so you’ll have to look elsewhere for some decent film analysis, this is more along the lines of ‘ooh, look how many of these people I’ve seen on stage!’. What I will say though was my favourite thing about watching these four films in close succession, was the real sense that emerged of the ensemble. Indeed it felt like a theatre company in rep with many of the same actors appearing and reappearing and taking on such varied roles – a genuine thrill.