Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 54 Ratings

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  • Summary: A portrait of a back street abortionist in 1950's London.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Mike Leigh is at the peak of his powers with Vera Drake, a compassionate, morally complex drama that stands easily alongside his best work, "Secrets & Lies" and "Topsy-Turvy."
  2. Among its many excellences, Vera Drake functions superbly as a pure thriller; the last half is reminiscent in structure and detail of Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man."
  3. There's nothing harder for an actor to play than a thoroughly good character, and Staunton does it with a dowdy, sublime originality.
  4. It does a masterful job of capturing a specific time and place while reminding us how timeless the abortion dialogue is.
  5. 80
    The issue may be polarizing, but Vera Drake resonates with such seriousness and truth that it transcends the narrow limitations of polemic.
  6. In the end, this is a movie that doesn't respect its own power. Less of a stacked deck would have left Vera Drake to play a far more effective hand.
  7. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    The film's screenplay is thick with major lapses in logic, resulting in a story that ultimately makes little sense.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 2 out of 27
  1. Oct 21, 2014
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  2. MarkB.
    Nov 9, 2004
    Film history is loaded with instances of foreign filmmakers who seem to know America better than most Americans do. Vera Drake, written and Film history is loaded with instances of foreign filmmakers who seem to know America better than most Americans do. Vera Drake, written and directed by the great Mike Leigh, isn't set in the U.S. at all; it takes place in economically pummeled, postwar working-class England, and yet it could be the film that begins to unite red and blue states reeling from one of the most polarizing elections in post memory (including 2000) in honest and intelligent conversation, if not necessarily consensus. For the first time since his mammothly entertaining Gilbert and Sullivan story Topsy-Turvy, Leigh sets his film in the past (and happily avoids the near-self-parody of his most recent effort, All or Nothing); he tells the story of a sweet, almost saintly past-middle-aged charwoman (the sublime Imelda Staunton) who, unbeknownst to her loving family, performs abortions for poor young women with few or no apparent other options. Of course, in that time and place, "procedure" and "operation" are the preferred euphemisms; I was surprised and slightly amused to hear the "a-word" (or a form of it) used more frequently in the dialogue of Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles. (Completely and totally different context, of course; don't worry, parents!) Leigh's narrative seems extremely leisurely, but don't be fooled; he takes his time detailing Vera's family and their relationships to one another so that when the hammer finally drops, you feel the pain in all its reverberations. This is no Cider House Rules; Leigh absolutely refuses to be didactic or polemical in the manner of fellow Brit kitchen-sink filmmaker Ken Loach; nothing against Loach, but Leigh's generosity to nearly all his characters is far more challenging here. Vera's arrest and legal difficulties are absolutely harrowing and horrifying for Vera, but it's important to note that the police do their job with compassion and more than a little reluctance; I particularly loved a policewoman who treats Vera with exceptional kindness under the circumstances. Much of the time, those folks (on both sides of a given spectrum) who clamor for "balanced" treatment of controversial topics aren't really seeking evenhandedness; they want the scales heavily weighted in favor of their side. Vera Drake, in letting the story, characters and setting speak for themselves, will undoubtedly speak to far more social conservatives on the subject (those who see it, anyway) than a thousand Michael Moore or Robert Greenwald documentaries could ever hope to. Put it this way: I just can't picture the viewers on either side of the abortion issue, including deeply religious people who absolutely believe in their hear of hearts that abortion is utterly and totally wrong, NOT desperately hoping and praying for the unquestionably well-intentioned title character to get every mercy that the court is able to give. Expand
  3. Oct 14, 2011
    A beautiful film with a original and interesting story, with a brilliant performance of Imelda Stauton, a moving film, one of the best movies of 2004.
  4. HC.
    Mar 13, 2007
    I agree almost word for word with the reviewer "Roland D." I did think the first half was quite good so I'm giving it a 5, but really I agree almost word for word with the reviewer "Roland D." I did think the first half was quite good so I'm giving it a 5, but really the second half just dies on-screen. The realization that Leigh isn't really taking us anywhere is such a disappointment that it really tarnishes the acting and makes it seem sort of masturbatory --really, I bet it's an actors wet dream to be in a Mike Leigh film. But the acting should be in service of something more than just the acting itself (i.e. plot/story/anything). Expand

See all 27 User Reviews