Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 244 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Just how hard is it to be happy? Poppy is an irrepressibly free-spirited school teacher who brings an infectious laugh and an unsinkable sense of optimism to every situation she encounters, offering us a touching, truthful and deeply life-affirming exploration of one of the most mysterious and often the most elusive of all human qualities: happiness. Poppy's ability to maintain her perspective is tested as the story begins and her commuter bike is stolen. However, she enthusiastically signs up for driving lessons with Scott, who turns out to be her nemesis – a fuming, uptight cynic. As the tension of their weekly lessons builds, Poppy encounters even more challenges to her positive state of mind: a fiery flamenco instructor, her bitter pregnant sister, a troubled homeless man and a young bully in her class, not to mention that she has also thrown out her back. How this affects not only Poppy's world view but also the outlook of those around her begs the question "glass half full or half empty"? (Miramax) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 100
    This is Mike Leigh's funniest film since "Life Is Sweet" (1991). Of course he hasn't ever made a completely funny film, and Happy-Go-Lucky has scenes that are not funny, not at all.
  2. I thought "Topsy-Turvy" was perfection, a spirited evocation of the partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan, plus a blithely definitive depiction of the artistic process. Happy-Go-Lucky is perfection too, assuming you go along with its leisurely pace, which I did quite happily.
  3. Mr. Leigh has never been an artist for whom happy (word or idea) has been an easy fit. Life is sweet, as the title of another of his films puts it with a heart-swelling yes, but it’s also an eternal fight against doom and gloom, the soul-crushing no.
  4. Reviewed by: Jenni Miller
    Sally Hawkins offers an Oscar-worthy performance as Poppy, the funny, kind-hearted, and mischievous protagonist.
  5. As is always the case with Leigh's protagonists, Poppy does not fit into a schematic log line, she simply is. She exists with an intensity that few other filmmakers' characters can manage because of the singular way Leigh creates his people.
  6. As surprising as it is delicious with an indelible performance by new star Sally Hawkins.
  7. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    That's the film's problem: Leigh's creation is fixed and unchangeable, admirably optimistic as a person but completely unengaging as a movie character.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 69
  2. Negative: 30 out of 69
  1. May 23, 2014
    HAPPY-GO-LUCKY is easily one of the best films I've ever seen so far. It's od-ly enjoyable and I smile every time I watch this.
    Sally Hawkins
    is amazingly brilliant! Her performance as (like the movie's title) Happy-Go-Lucky woman and humble person melted my heart. The movie has a beautiful message for us.
    Again, Sally Hawkins is the heart and soul of this hilarious, powerful and funny Britain picture.
  2. Nov 12, 2013
    The acting is wonderful for the most part and the characters are quite believable. What's funny is that no matter how hard I look, there's no actual plot to the film. The general idea is to view a jokingly happy woman's life with different perspectives and understanding...with the help of several sub-plots. Despite the fact there isn't a reason to watch Happy-Go-Lucky, it's oddly enjoyable. Expand
  3. Feb 2, 2013
    the main reason i find this movie inadequate is the same reason it got made in the first place. because the main character is always optimistic. i find that in most of those cases, it makes her naive and shallow. and it's trying to prove the point that constant cheeriness is a positive factor. all the rest in the movie is adequate. i find the driving instructor to be a very competent character, even though the movie tried to paint him as the character we're supposed to frown at. but i guess it gets a 5 because i have some sort of inner hatred against giggling women. Expand
  4. Apr 10, 2011
    Through a mis-click I accidentally gave Mike Leigh's 'Another Year' a zero score when it deserved perhaps a 3. This one, however deserves the zero I'm giving it. One reviewer asks whether it's possible to enjoy the company of the world's most irritating woman, yet somehow finds the room to say 'yes'. I can't imagine why. Not only are half her lines made up of jokes that aren't actually infused with anything approaching wit, but she punctuates EVERY SENTENCE with this inhaled half-giggle -- perhaps a gasp-laugh -- that made me eventually put the sound off. I would have to ask whether it's possible to enjoy a movie that also has absolutely no plot. The plot is an incidental background upon which 'real life' plays out in all its unedited glory. Why did Leigh leave us watching school teachers making paper masks for their next day's class for A-G-E-S? Did he take a comfort break with the camera still running, and then decide to just leave it in? There is sort-of a climax towards the end, but it is merely a rare hot-point in one of the story-threads that comes out of nowhere, rather than a moment of resolution. At two hours, this movie runs for at least 45 minutes too long.

    The main character is meant to appear happy, and perhaps she is what passes for it in Manchester. She seems rather to be a ditsy dullard who lollops around in a haze of tired slang detritus and blips of half-one-liners, blindly committed to not giving a care about what anyone else requires of her. She is endlessly bubbly, but (except for her three scenes of near-compassion on which this aimless movie seems to hinge) she achieves this veneer of cheerfulness by acting resolutely in her own interest, as though happiness is merely a matter of allowing nothing to faze you and allowing nothing to make demands of you.

    As with Another Year, Mike Leigh seems to be examining a theme about which he knows very little. The treatment of happiness and 'message' (which is too strong a word for any conclusions one might draw) are clumsy and poorly analysed. The director's commitment to filming 'Real Life TM' comes across as muddled, paceless, lazy film-making, and all of this might not have mattered too much if the characters were engaging. Making them annoying instead of charming was a directorial risk that is hard to justify, and it continues to mystify me that none of this seems to have mattered to the majority of critics.

    The director wants to show us real people doing real things, with messy unresolved real-life events, and not the neat, cliched Hollywood climax and denouement. I wonder why we should bother going to the cinema for that. A desperately abysmal film, among the worst I've ever seen.

See all 69 User Reviews