Metascore
84

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

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 245 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
    88
    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
    40
    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: 35 out of 70
  2. Negative: 30 out of 70
  1. SarahK
    Mar 17, 2009
    10
    This movie is a gem. How often do we see a movie that actually examines the real-life risks of leading a happy life, and whether happiness itself makes it worth it? Also, the acting is extraordinary. Expand
  2. EvanS.
    Jan 15, 2009
    10
    5.9? Really? We're in a sad state if audiences is unable to see a movie like this and see it's amazing soul. This is one of the few movies I've seen in years that has a real heart. God bless Mike Leigh. I wish more American filmmakers could match his talent and will. There are some who come close (Ang Lee and "The Ice Storm" to think of one), but he stands alone. Expand
  3. RobC.
    May 29, 2009
    9
    I loved this film. A refreshing change from your average Hollywood movie, this one made me think during, and after watching it. Some really interesting stuff in it - I think most people can relate to it. Expand
  4. Habsburg
    Nov 24, 2008
    5
    Bland film, about a bland main character, played slightly better than bland by Sally Hawkins. I wanted my $10 and 2 hours back at films none to soon end. Collapse
  5. JohnS.
    Nov 22, 2008
    3
    Had it been billed as a character study of a tragic heroine, I would have scheduled the movie for something besides a chance for comic relief. As it was, being force fed her torturous blytheness was far from relief. Expand
  6. zizek'ssuccesor
    Jan 19, 2009
    2
    This movie is ideology at its purest ... critical thinking is mocked embodied by scott and this distance (not engaging with the world) that poppy portrays is symbolic of western buddhism. Hence she can participate in the oppressive matrix of virtual capitalism and keep her hands clean. Expand
  7. MarianB
    Nov 3, 2008
    0
    I was severely disappointed by this film because the trailer seemed so promising. In fact I didn't think a film could actually cause me physical pain (a terrible headache) nor make me think vicious thoughts about the characters. This awful film did exactly that. The script was absolutely unconvincing in its optimistism or at its attempts at portraying realisitic London life (the cabbie for instance was to be pitied for his road rage because of Poppy). Unfortunately also it fulfilled tired stereotypes (white working class cabbie hates black boys, dabbles in conspiracy theories). A new angle would have been appreciated. The romance was forced (the social worker & Poppy exchanging numbers straight after just trying to get the audience to sympathise with an abused child.) Not professional or cute. The attempts to make the audience think that Poppy had some profound insight/kinship with the downtrodden (e.g. the homeless man) was pathetic because there was not a light of understanding between the two, just left with the mad ramblings of a cold and hungry man. The other characters lives (e.g. sister, flatmate, colleagues) were uninteresting and badly acted. The whole film seemed very black and white with everyone enraged with the world (not explained why) and Poppy 'happy' unconvingly. Irritating to the point of knased teeth. Avoid at all cost. I am sorry I rented it. Life affirming films have been done a whole lot better by some seriously good actors with thumpingly good scripts e.g. Audrey Hepburn etc. Indulge in those. Expand

See all 70 User Reviews

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