Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
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  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. 100
    Vera Drake puts the passion in compassion. Building up to a shattering conclusion, Leigh's movie is both outrageously schematic and powerfully humanist.
  3. Stunning and compassionate period drama.
  4. The acting is brilliant and Leigh's screenplay - developed through his usual process of improvisation and rehearsal - is very long on compassion, very short on preaching and politics.
  5. A marvel of character-driven drama that no serious filmgoer should miss.
  6. 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."
  7. 100
    Few movies have evoked the happiness of a good, strong family as genuinely as this one. And this affecting atmosphere makes the eventual outcome resonate with great power.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    This is the kind of people-driven story that the movies used to give us - before special effects took over.
  9. 100
    In absorbing drama and staggering emotions, it renders an issue too often seen as black or white in heartbreaking gray.
  10. 100
    The strength of Leigh's film is that it is not a message picture, but a deep and true portrait of these lives.
  11. There's nothing harder for an actor to play than a thoroughly good character, and Staunton does it with a dowdy, sublime originality.
  12. The English director Mike Leigh's best work in a decade.
  13. Reviewed by: Melissa Levine
    Vera Drake is so patient, assiduous and attentive to emotional accuracy that it betrays the utter sloth of most of what we see when we go to the movies.
  14. As an evocation of English working-class life half a century ago, it feels utterly authentic, and is ennobled -- not too strong a word, I think -- by Imelda Staunton's performance in the title role.
  15. Much of the film's potency derives from its personal edge -- the passion for precise period decor, the title dedicating the film to Leigh's parents (a doctor and midwife), and even the childlike classification of many characters as either good souls or villains.
  16. Reviewed by: Sean Daly
    Sweet, strange and ultimately heartbreaking.
  17. 88
    Using Staunton's face as his canvas, Leigh crafts a powerfully moving film that is unmissable and unforgettable.
  18. 88
    Confirms Leigh's reputation as one of the world's master filmmakers - and showcases Staunton as one of its great actresses.
  19. 88
    For those who have the patience to become absorbed in this kind of drama, Vera Drake offers a stunningly real character portrait whose image will linger long after the movie has faded.
  20. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The film is startlingly even-handed.
  21. It does a masterful job of capturing a specific time and place while reminding us how timeless the abortion dialogue is.
  22. No filmmaker, in any cinematic culture, has a better eye or ear for the working class than director Mike Leigh.
  23. Reviewed by: Ray Bennett
    It's difficult to think of another recent film so seamlessly rendered or that envelops an audience so completely in its period authenticity.
  24. 80
    Marvellous, though it is smaller in emotional range than such earlier Mike Leigh films as the goofy bourgeois satire "High Hopes" (1988), the candid and piercing "Secrets & Lies" (1996), and the splendid theatrical spectacle "Topsy-Turvy" (1999).
  25. One of the letdowns of Vera Drake is that once Vera is arrested, we lose her voice.
  26. 80
    The issue may be polarizing, but Vera Drake resonates with such seriousness and truth that it transcends the narrow limitations of polemic.
  27. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    This very patient film reaches out and unshakably grips us.
  28. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Painful for many reasons, but highly recommended.
  29. In an era in which too many of us automatically accept women's right to choose, Vera Drake reminds us that the time for complacency is not now.
  30. Expansive, but succinct. Leigh tells a small story and doesn't try to make something huge of it.
  31. 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.
  32. 75
    Makes a compelling argument for women's rights without ever succumbing to preachiness.
  33. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Imelda Staunton is absolutely astonishing.
  34. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Staunton is phenomenal - she barely speaks throughout the entire last third of the film, but the power of her posture and distraught expressions are enough to break your heart.
  35. Reviewed by: Carina Chocano
    As lovely and heartbreaking as Staunton is to watch, there's something about Leigh's attachment to his politics that leaches some complexity from the experience
  36. Leigh's directing is lean and tight. In Imelda Staunton as Vera, he has an actress who can make her only two emotions interesting.
  37. 60
    When one of the young women Vera attends to nearly dies of complications, the police arrest her -- and the movie goes thud, taking Staunton's performance along with it.
  38. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Marathon of misery.
  39. 50
    As a character study Vera Drake is coarsely drawn, and as pro-choice polemic, it’s both a blunt instrument and a red herring. Which may be why, among all the moviegoers who staggered from the theater wielding soaked tissues, I was among the few who remained dry of eye, and raised of brow.
  40. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    The film's screenplay is thick with major lapses in logic, resulting in a story that ultimately makes little sense.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 2 out of 27
  1. Oct 21, 2014
    ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** Full Review »
  2. 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.
  3. 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). Full Review »